At the centre of India’s migrant crisis are mothers & young children, hungry and desperate to reach home
A migrant woman and her daughter lost their lives in a road accident while heading home under the lockdown. The image of the mangled auto in which they were travelling has found its way to social media, yet again putting the focus on the plight of the migrant labourers in India who are desperate to get home. “I would rather die of the virus at home than die in a place I don’t know,” is what you hear migrants say. A painful reminder of how desperate the situation is. At the centre of the migrant crisis are heartbreaking stories with women, especially young mothers at their centre. Here’s looking at some images of migrant women battling distance, heat, lack of amenities and braving a lockdown, in their bid to get back home.
Travelled 1,300 km in an autorickshaw, mother-daughter killed in an accident
A woman with her six-year-old daughter who was a part of a group travelling from Maharashtra to Jaunpur in Eastern Uttar Pradesh died in an accident. As reported by NDTV, they had travelled 1,300 km in an auto-rickshaw for three days, when they were hit by a truck, in Fatehpur UP, just 230 km away from their hometown.
In another incident, a speeding car in Haryana killed a migrant worker from Bihar and injured one more. Another migrant, cycling home was killed in Rae Bareli.
An SUV hit two migrants who were walking on a road at Ambala Cantt in Haryana. One of them died on the spot while the other has been severely injured. Two migrants were also killed on their way home when the truck they had taken a ride in overturned in Gorakhpur district.
Woman, carries her two kids on shoulders
Even though the government has launched trains, those on the move are now not able to access those facilities. They are walking. Some are walking alone. Some with children on their heads. This image showing a woman carrying her two kids on her shoulders went viral and it really did send out a loud message of this crisis especially on mother’s day. It again highlights the plight of the underprivileged lot. They do not have enough food or means to survive in these urban areas. But they also do not have the means to reach their homes safely.
— sohit mishra (@sohitmishra99) May 6, 2020
In what’s a powerful picture of the misery of families and workers trying to get home, this tweet by Rashmi Tiwari shows a group struggling to climb a truck with a baby hanging along its father (whose bones show as he musters all energy to latch on the rope) and mothers trying to find room to get for themselves. “Could we have stopped this situation to come,” Rashmi asks while sharing this.
नए भारत की दुःखद तस्वीर। क्या हम ये सब रोक नहीं सकते थे? pic.twitter.com/KUvuC0jUbV
— Rashmi Tiwari (@cheersrashmi) May 11, 2020
In another incident, a group of 20 people was seen walking from Ghansoli in Navi Mumbai to their village in Buldhana in Maharashtra, a journey of over 480 km. The group included a 7-month pregnant woman.
“I sit once in a while…,” said Nikita, the pregnant woman, as she walked on the road wearing a saree. The woman, who started her walk at 7 pm yesterday, said she had been on the road for the last 12 hours. A young man walked behind her, carrying their belongings on his head.
“What will we do staying here? There are no arrangements here for our food and water,” she told NDTV.
Migrant woman gives birth on roadside
A migrant worker Shakuntala risked walking a distance of 1,000km -from Nashik to Satna, in the ninth month of her pregnancy. The woman gave birth to the baby on the roadside, rested for an hour and continued the journey with her newborn. A woman needs weeks to recover after childbirth, but, as the Times of India report says, helplessness forced the woman to walk over 200 km soon after giving birth to a baby. She is a hero indeed but it’s so tragic she was forced to be in this situation. A failure of our nation to address this migrant crisis, these stories of apathy and crisis outcome are heart wrenching.
Are more equal than the others?
Several people and even some news channels were seen talking about how these incidents defy social distancing and the rules of the lockdown. But how can we fail to notice the misery and helplessness of these people? As a young woman in 21st century India I ask myself – where is our empathy? What else are these people supposed to do to survive? For the political parties, fighting over the credit and money of these people’s train tickets, this is merely an ‘issue.’ They see their political gains and that who gets the credits. I feel every migrant worker who dies in such accidents, to news and politics it just might be a number to use in their mentions. As a young woman this lockdown has been so significant in my understanding of our worlds and how we are so tremendously disconnected.
I haven’t been able to get this out of my head. 14 men were mowed down on a railway track, with Rotis strewn all over the railway track. Dead because they were so tired that they slept on the tracks. Why are some lives “more equal” than others? These are some questions we need to ask ourselves. And those sitting in power.
Ayushi Aggarwal is an intern at SheThePeople.TV