Lockdown And The Mass Exodus

coronavirus migration

No one will question why Lockdown was imposed on this country for 21 days. The idea was to distance people so that the corona virus would not spread due to community contact. The step was taken to keep people separate so that the virus would not spread like it has spread in Italy and Spain with disastrous consequences.

What we are not able to accept is the timing and the method used to clamp the Lockdown on this vast country. We already were Locked down voluntarily on the 21st of March which was extended by another 24 hours on the 22nd of March. If we then needed a 21-day Lockdown, the public should have been warned of the impending 21-day Lockdown and asked to prepare themselves for this long event. They should have been given a week’s window for this preparation so that people far away from their native places could come back to their town/village helped by the respective State Governments by proper transport methods, e.g. trains, buses, etc.

What actually took place was the sudden announcement by our Prime Minister on the night of March 22nd that 21-day Lockdown would start from the midnight of 22nd. This resulted in panic buying by the population. Worse was yet to come.

Migrant labourers from all across the country were starting to get laid off and landlords started to ask these poor daily earners to vacate their premises. Fearing the Corona, loss of livelihood and their place of residence, the vast majority of daily earners started their long journey to go back to the safety of their family and village/town. A mass exodus and movement took place and filled our roads and midway towns with these poor citizens for whom there was hardly any concern and care. I know how I would feel if I get stranded away from my family in an inhospitable city far away with no money, food and place to sleep and the fear of Corona virus over my head. I do not know if our leaders sitting in the comfort of their homes have any idea about the anxiety and discomfort of our daily wagers and such brethren. It is a shame on this country and its leaders who when planning such catastrophic events do not give any importance to the misery imposed by such decisions.

It has become a fashion in this country to give the minimum attention to the needs and requirements of the vast poor majority thinking that they should keep quiet and not ask for more. At the same time the affluent and filthy rich can have multi-crore weddings, celebrations and enjoy the fruits of the hard labour put in by the poor majority.

Twenty-one day Lockout without advance preparation to help the poor and the needy was a disastrous decision in terms of bringing unnecessary hardship to this large migrant force on whose head our daily economy rests. Let us not repeat this mistake again without adequate warning and preparation.

Prem Verma, Convenor, Jharkhand Nagrik Prayas, Ranchi, Jharkhand




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