Eighteen migrant workers were found holed up inside a cement mixer in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, amid the coronavirus lockdown. A video tweeted by the Indian news agency @ANI, is being widely shared on Twitter today.
Police officers posted on the border between Madhya Pradesh’s Indore and Ujjain districts stopped the truck for checking. According to news reports, the driver’s behaviour made the police suspicious and they proceeded to check the cement mixer. The officials were shocked when they found 18 men inside.
A video of the incident shows the concrete mixer parked along the side of a road while, one by one, migrant labourers emerge from the drum, with their belongings.
Reportedly, the police have filed a first information report (FIR) and seized the truck in which the workers were trying to reach Uttar Pradesh from Maharashtra.
Many Indian tweeps replied, highlighting the plight of migrant workers inthe last few weeks across the country. Thousands were forced to undertake long on-foot journeys after the sudden lockdown caused them to lose their jobs and left them stranded away from their villages, without food or money.
These migrant workers who left their homes in remote villages of India, to work in urban cities for daily wages are now trying to reach back. They walk for days on end, in the unbearable summer heat in India, struggling with hunger and thirst. Many of them carry infants on their shoulders. Some, have reportedly, died on the way.
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With nearly 200,000 views, the video has received many comments on Twitter, with Indians highlighting the condition of millions of India's migrant labourers.
Tweep @Vishall_Tyagi wrote: "Shows how badly we have failed in implementing things, and misery of these people who so badly want to go home!"
And, @sabina222 posted: "We have failed as a nation and to protect our people who cannot afford to take the attention of the center... the rich get easy the poor have to starve..."
This is not the first such incident. According to Indian news website ndtv.com: "Last week 94 migrants and their families were found squeezed into the back of truck while attempting a despairing 1,000-km journey from Haryana to Bihar."
The Indian government permitted migrants stranded by the lockdown to return home by road, providing they displayed no COVID-19 symptoms.
In the wake of demands by different state governments to run special trains to ferry people stuck in various states, Indian Railways said it will run special trains from Friday to move labourers, pilgrims, tourists and students stranded across the country.
As per the Indian Railways, only people nominated by state governments will be allowed to board these trains. As per a previous Gulf News report, the first train left Telangana, where there are an estimated 15 lakh migrants, for Jharkhand on Friday.
India's nationwide COVID-19 lockdown has been extended by two weeks.