‘India is walking home’: Millions of migrant workers flee locked-down cities

Hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers are fleeing Delhi as nationwide lockdown has left them homeless and jobless. With businesses shut down in cities across the country, vast numbers of migrants, many of whom lived and ate where they worked were suddenly without food and shelter.⁣

Migrant workers travel on a crowded bus as they return to their villages, during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ghaziabad, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, March 29, 2020. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi


Few transport options are currently available – migrants, mostly young male day labourers but also families, have resorted to commuting on foot during the 21-day lockdown that started on Wednesday. Many have been met with police resistance and brutality as they approached the Delhi border. ⁣

Only one of India’s States, Uttar Pradesh, has made arrangements to bring migrants home, commissioning about 1,000 buses. PM Modi has been deeply criticised over a lack of adequate planning ahead of the decision.⁣

Migrant workers crowd up outside a bus station as they wait to board buses to return to their villages during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ghaziabad, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India March 28, 2020. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis – RC24TF90D90A