Over 1,000 migrant workers living under Ghazipur flyover
New Delhi: It is 2 pm on Monday afternoon. There are around six to seven Delhi government buses stationed on the Delhi-side of the Ghazipur border between the Capital and Uttar Pradesh as approximately 1,500 migrant workers waited — their eyes fixated on the green buses, hoping to finally get transportation across the border.
A day after more than 5,000 migrant workers were stopped from crossing into UP at the Ghazipur border, most of them were moved under a nearby flyover and while a lot of them had left the area on Monday morning, many continued to wait there, hoping the authorities were finding a way to get them on the buses.
"We are doing everything we can, and senior officers are deciding right now whether to send you to UP in these buses or take you to shelter homes here in Delhi," a Delhi Police Inspector told a crowd of worried migrant workers. "Please stay put here comfortably in the meantime," he added just as a child defecated in the open less than 20 metres from him.
The area is not equipped with any sanitation. There are no bathrooms, no places to wash hands with soap and most migrant workers did not have sanitisers with them. "We have been living under this flyover for the last three days," Vishal Kumar, a 20-year-old farm hand said.
Kumar and his friend were farm workers on wheat fields in Rohtak and had left from there on foot after their employer said he could no longer support them. Both have been stuck in Delhi since they reached the Capital three days ago.
Meanwhile, police officials in the area said they had received directions to not let migrant workers walk on the highways or get into trucks considering the accidents that have killed over 170 migrant workers across the country by now. "District officials are meeting right now to decide what to do with these workers. We will not know whether to put them on these buses until they arrive at a decision," the area Inspector said.
However, as the migrant workers finished munching on whatever food packets were brought to them by concerned citizens and social workers, the crowd under the flyover slowly kept swelling. "Many people had left hoping for other ways to cross the border but now they are slowly returning and there won't be enough space here for us to maintain social distancing soon," one migrant worker told the Millennium Post.
A police constable intervened at this point, telling him, "There is so much space here. You also have shade. Please stay here. There is enough space here to maintain social distancing."
Significantly, this was the third attempt for most of the migrant workers to try and cross into UP. "Every time we tried crossing on the day the lockdown was supposed to be lifted but unfortunately, the government kept extending it and we were always sent away," Risha said while nursing her 11-month-old daughter.
Many of the migrant workers added that they had travelled to the Ghazipur border specifically on the morning of May 17 because they believed the lockdown would finally end that day.