LUCKNOW: Tragedy failed to deter at least 50 families from Chhattisgarh to pedal back home, just 24 hours after a couple from their village was crushed to death by a truck on Shaheed Path.
These daily wage labourers, who reside in a slum cluster at Sector 6, Jankipuram, embarked on 850km treacherous journey on bicycles on Friday after losing their livelihood in Lucknow due to the lockdown.
With bags and water bottles tied on their cycles, these migrant workers were accompanied by their families. With rations barely a trickle in their Jankipuram cluster, these famished labourers said, they will pedal all the way to Chhattisgarh or hitch-hike midway to reach home.
These labourers hail from Bilaspur , Bemetara, Baloda Bazar, Korba and Raigarh districts of Chhattisgarh while a few reside in the border district of Sonbhadra in UP.
“If we stay back here, we will die of hunger. We have no money to purchase food,” said Yogesh Kumar, who would work as a mason at construction sites in Lucknow. He sold off his meagre collection, including a wrist watch and radio to buy a cycle to head home.
Kumar’s friend, Mahesh said, they would take turns to pedal while the other rode pillion holding the bags.
Another migrant, Shashi Devi, carrying her three-year-old daughter, Tara, said, “We have no jobs here and we don’t know when the lockdown will end. It’s better to reach home, where we can at least till our lands,” she said.
Ram Kumar, whose brother died in the accident on Shaheed Path, said, his elder sister accompanying them was pregnant and hoped to avail sops of Chhattisgarh government for migrants to restart his life.
“Few days ago, my brother told me he would take a train or bus or hitch-hike to reach his village. But, he began cycling his way home and died on the way,” he said with tears in his eyes.
When TOI spoke to the district administration about absence of ration in Jankipuram area, additional district magistrate, Trans-Gomti, Vishwa Bhushan Mishra, said, “We have not received any complaint from these areas.” On the exodus of Chhattisgarh migrants because of lack of food, Mishra lobbed the ball in the court of SHO, Jankipuram. However, the SHO, Tej Prakash Singh , denied any movement of people from the slum clusters.