Thousands of migrant workers and daily wagers from northern states were seen scrambling to board buses to get home at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on Saturday as a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus stripped them of livelihoods.
The Uttar Pradesh government had arranged more than 1000 special buses after distressing videos and images emerged of exhausted workers marching home due to pandemic controlled restrictions.
There were 15,000 to 20,000 people at the Anand Vihar bus depot at 9.30 pm on Saturday, and only 60 to 70 buses.
There were stampede-like situations in bus depot, with Delhi Police officers on standby carrying lathis. A baton-charge by policemen on migrants was also reported.
More than 500 more buses were due to reach by midnight, Shahdara Deputy Commissioner of Police Dinesh Kumar Gupta told PTI.
Anand Vihar is a major interstate bus terminal close to Delhi’s border with Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, nearly 1 lakh migrant workers who have returned to Uttar Pradesh from other states will have to stay in quarantine camps for 14 days, the UP government said on Saturday. The mass exodus of thousands of workers, who are leaving for their hometowns in packed buses, has sparked fears about the rapid spread of the virus.
Many migrant workers were allowed to go to their villages after thermal scanning and examination by doctors on Saturday.
Migrant laborers and daily wagers are some of the worst-hit by the shutdowns enforced by pandemic controlling lockdown in the country.
More than fifty thousand daily wage workers and migrant laborers across the country traveled all through on foot and by other means of transport to reach their shelters, immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus.
Photographs and videos of migrant workers and daily wagers walking hundreds of kilometers or crammed in mini trucks and lorries show how the BJP ruling government ignored their plight.
The nationwide lockdown entered its fifth day on Sunday.