mandag 30. mars 2020

India racked by greatest exodus since partition due to coronavirus

Mamta looked out at the road ahead, barely visible in the night, and a dark thought crossed her mind: what if she and her family could not make the journey back to their village? What if her four children, including her eight-year-old disabled son, Sumit, heavy in her arms, died here on the side of the road? “The road seemed endless, we had no money for food and my children just took short breaks sleeping on the ground,” she said. But gritting her teeth and pushing hunger and exhaustion away, Mamta kept on walking.

It would take her six-person family almost five days on foot to make the 125-mile journey from Gurgaon, a satellite city to the capital, Delhi, to their village, Sidamai in Uttar Pradesh, as part of an exodus of millions of migrant workers and families last week unlike anything seen in India since partition. It followed the announcement last Tuesday night by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, that for the next 21 days the entire country of 1.3 billion people would be under lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.