The coronavirus-led lockdown has left the daily wagers and migrant labourers in the lurch. Being the most-affected section of the society, many of them decided to make the long journey of hundreds of kilometres by foot, as transportations were halted.
However, in the fourth phase of the lockdown, the Indian government relaxed many restrictions, allowing people to move freely and return to their native lands with special trains and buses.
But before this was made effective, a teenage girl rode a bicycle from Delhi to Darbhanga, Bihar, with her injured father on the pillion. Fifteen-year-old Jyoti cycled 1,200 km for about a week starting May 10 due to the lack of transportation during the lockdown.
The duo spent Rs 500 on buying a bicycle, which they used to reach their destination. Despite being an e-rickshaw driver, Jyoti’s father could not help her as he had suffered a leg injury post the lockdown.
They did not have enough money to afford the room they were staying in earlier, and hence, decided to head back. They also approached a truck driver who was travelling from Delhi but could not afford to pay him Rs 6,000 that he demanded to help them reach Bihar.
“We had only Rs 600 with us when we left Delhi. I used to cycle day and night, taking breaks of two-three hours at petrol pumps during the night. We mostly ate food at relief camps, and those offered by some good samaritans on the way,” Jyoti told SheThePeople.
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Jyoti cycled during the day and spent a maximum of three hours of the night at petrol pumps to rest. While the journey was long and tiresome, her only concern was if they would get hit by the moving traffic on the highways.
“I did not feel very scared even while cycling at night, as we used to see hundreds of migrants walking on the highways. Our only concern was road accidents, which fortunately we did not face,” she told Newsd.
Upon their arrival in their village in Darbhanga on the evening of May 16, the villagers were shocked to see them entering on a cycle and immediately offered them food and water. They were also screened at the Government Middle School, Sirhulli, the next day.
Being the only female inmate at the quarantine centre, Jyoti was asked to stay in-home quarantine.
To date, the coronavirus pandemic has taken more than 3,300 lives in India, recording over one lakh positive cases.
(Edited by Suman Singh)
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