Migrants working in different sectors in Andhra Pradesh have started returning to their native villages fearing the possibility of a fresh lockdown being imposed in the State following the surge in COVID-19 cases.
With last year’s lockdown travails fresh in their memory, they apparently do not want to take a chance.
With the Centre announcing lockdown on March 23 last year, and the government cancelling trains, buses and other means of transport, the labourers faced severe hardship in returning to their hometowns. Thousands of them from Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Telangana, who were working in various sectors in the State, were forced to trek their way home carrying children and belongings on shoulders in hot sun. A few of them died en route.
Some video clippings being circulated in social media are reportedly adding to their worry.
“As lockdown has been imposed in some parts of the neighbouring States, our family members fear that a similar situation may come here and want us to come back,” says a labourer Maghi.
The Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Vijayawada, P. Srinivas says that some people are posting clippings of rush at railway and bus stations of the last year’s lockdown period in some groups, which is creating panic among the migrants.
“Indian Railways has not cancelled any trains in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19. We are running special trains to many sections,” he says.
“There is no proposal to cancel trains to any State,” clarifies Vijayawada Senior Divisional Commercial Manager P. Bhaskar Reddy.