Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, May 21
Prakash, in his teens, checks the last message on his mobile. It’s from the Punjab Government, urging migrants to be patient. He responds with a derisive shrug. He and his brothers Dharmendra and Kanhaiya left Amritsar for their hometown Ballia in Uttar Pradesh four days ago. They intend to walk all the way to their village Noorpur, more than 1,318 km away, each carrying a bag with two sets of clothes. The trio is accompanied by five co-workers.
Resting under a bridge at the Pathankot bypass here on Thursday, Prakash told The Tribune: “Many of our colleagues left days ago. Government messages mean nothing. We have no money or ration. We can’t wait any longer.” Dharmendra (28) and Kanhaiya (30) arrived in Punjab two years ago. They worked with an embroidery unit. Prakash, who came only a few months ago, sold vegetables. Having lost his livelihood, Dharmendra wants to return to his wife, who is pregnant. Kanhaiya wants to be back with his three young kids aged two, three and five years.
“We will resume our journey tomorrow after a day’s rest,” said Prakash, who worked with a bike repair shop after the lockdown, but the shop too was shut after a while. “We received ticket confirmation messages from the Railways, but the message for boarding the train never came. Our landlord kept pestering us for rent. He asked us to leave if we could not pay it. We left without our luggage. It seems like a nightmare. I just want to be home,” said a desolate Dharmendra.
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