Thousands of migrant workers thronged Anand Vihar Bus Terminal and railway station in the national capital on Monday as fear and anxiety grew after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a week-long lockdown.
The migrants fear once again losing their jobs and being left to fend themselves. Anand Vihar bus terminal saw a chaotic scene with people scrambling to take the first bus out or board a train.
The police were also in talks with civil administration officials to either arrange transport for them or provide shelter homes for temporary stay. Cops also tried to counsel the migrant workers to stay back as the lockdown was just for a few days.
Mukesh Pratap, who works at a cloth factory in Dilshad Garden and is a native of UP's Bareilly, told news agency PTI he wanted to go to his home as there was a possibility of an extension of the lockdown. "Lockdown will definitely affect our livelihood so it is better for us to remain at our home. It may be extended also and I would not like to take a chance," he said.
The scenario was no different at Sarai Kale Khan and Kashmere Gate bus terminal where students, women, and labourers were looking for a way back home. Several students from Sonepat reached Delhi after the lockdown announcement to catch the bus back home to Bihar, the agency reported.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court on Monday slammed both the Delhi government and the Centre for mishandling migrants' exodus during the 2020 lockdown.The HC said both the Centre and AAP government miserably failed to think about migrant workers during the 2020 lockdown and added that lessons should be learnt from past lockdowns.
According to the court, the Delhi government has failed to utilise thousands of rupees lying in the corpus under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act. "We direct the Delhi government to withdraw from the said account, if necessary, and provide food to needy daily wagers at their respective worksites," the bench said.
It added the Delhi government should utilise the services of contractors who used to prepare mid-day meals in schools that are closed now.
Last year, during the nationwide lockdown, a sea of migrant workers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other states living especially in Mumbai and Delhi walked on foot as transportation services were suspended for months.