'If we don't get any bus from here, we will start walking home.'
'What else can we do?'
'We don't want to die of hunger here.'
Thousands of migrant labourers are moving out of Mumbai. And they don't want to come back to the Maximum City.
Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com spoke with some migrants who were heading back to their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. They were waiting for buses to ferry them to their respective states at the junction of Ghodbunder Road in Thane, which connects the city to the busy Nashik-Agra and Mumbai-Ahmedabad national highways.
Rajkumar Rajbhar, Ghazipur, UP
'I won't come back'
We are five people in the family, including three children. We hail from Ghazipur, which is near Benaras in Uttar Pradesh.
I will be boarding a truck from here to my hometown. One of the fellow from my village is a truck driver and he will come here to pick us up after he unloads his truck in Vasai.
From there he will go to Bhayender and then come to pick us up here. He is charging us Rs 3,000 per adult, but nothing for the small kids.
I worked in Mumbai in the construction sector. Whatever I had saved out of my earnings is over now and I have no option but to leave Mumbai.
I too had filled the forms, but nothing happened after that. I have been trying since last 15 days to make my way out.
I will not think about coming back to Mumbai. I won't think about it now.
Even if I earn less in my village, I don't have a choice; even if I make some basic income I will stay back. I would earn Rs 500 per day here.
My children went to school here, but now I will take their marksheet from here and admit them in a school back home.
What do I have to tell the government? It gives us no facilities.
Even when I was at the construction site, we did not get anything.
What can I ask of this government? Those who are getting government aid are lucky; we are not getting any help.
Dayanath Goswami, Sidhi district, MP
'We don't want to die of hunger here'
I am going to Rewa district in Madhya Pradesh, but I am not getting any bus to go there.
We are about 40 to 45 people from the state and we made our living in Mumbai by making sweets.
We are all without work for about two months now due to COVID-19.
We don't have anything to eat now and no place to stay.
And today, we are stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Somebody told us we will get buses from here, but there seems to be no buses plying from here.
Some people told us we may get to board a truck or autorickshaw from here, so we came here. The truck drivers are asking us to pay Rs 8,000 to Rs 9,000 per person to ferry us back home. We don't earn that much; we are poor people; how can we afford that amount?
I filled all the forms required to board a train to Madhya Pradesh, but nothing came out of it. I have the receipts with me since the last ten days, but there is no news about the trains.
If we don't get any bus from here we will start walking home.
What else can we do? We don't want to die of hunger here.
Rajesh Mishra, Pratapgarh, UP
'I don't know if I will get a job'
I left my home at 6 am from Badlapur (on May 11). We walked for about 12 km from home when we got into a truck that dropped us at some place for free.
From there we walked six km again to reach here (at Ghodbunder Road).
I am going to Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh. I worked as a cook at a call centre's canteen in Airoli's Mindspace.
I won't come back to Mumbai after the lockdown is lifted. We are facing so many difficulties here. I earn Rs 9,000 per month.
I don't know if I will get a job in Pratapgarh, but I will open a shop and earn my living. I may not earn more than Rs 50 to Rs 100 per day, but I better do that than come back to Mumbai.
We heard from some people that there is a system to board trucks from here (Ghodbunder Road). But these people are asking for lot of charges here (to take us back home).
Our group was wandering astray here when a few policemen saw us. They thought something was amiss so they stopped their vehicle and called us.
They helped us in the best possible way; they directed us here and told us that the state government buses starting from this point would take us home for free.
You won't be charged any money for the journey and you can spend your money for buying food and water.
Those cops were like God for us!
Let me tell you that after coming here, we got water to drink; the cops here are giving us food in boxes too; they were sitting here just a few hours ago, now they have left.
They knew how difficult it would be for us to spend the night here. I felt so good; felt so glad.
We won't be inconvenienced even if the buses will leave tomorrow morning and we will have to spend the night here.
Ashok Dube, Jaunpur, UP
'We are dying of hunger'
I am a taxi driver from Badlapur. I am going to Jaunpur in UP. The state government has arranged for a bus which will leave this place around 8.30 am tomorrow.
We will be spending the night here with my children and family. We will use the jungle around for our morning ablutions.
I haven't earned a penny for two months because of the lockdown.
Whatever money I had saved is spent and now that we have none, I have no option but to go home.
I would request UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to make arrangements for our travel from where this bus leaves us in Madhya Pradesh (on May 12).
We are dying of hunger; I don't want to say anything else.