NASHIK: The last time there was a lockdown, they felt trapped in an abyss of despair with no escape. As Maharashtra battles a Covid resurgence, fear and anticipation of an impending lockdown is driving many migrant workers in Nashik back to their hometowns in Madhya Pradesh, UP, Bihar and Bengal before the border gates potentially close.
Clusters of these workers, most of them employed in various restaurants, industrial units and construction sites, are already on the move with their families. Some are looking to catch the first available trains back to their native places.
Roshan Kumar Singh, a cook in a Nashik restaurant, hails from Kanpur in UP. He has just started his journey back home with his three children and wife and a few others. “My brother is staying back. I am taking his and my family members back home. If there is a lockdown here again, we will be in deep trouble,” he said.
According to Roshan, his employer himself asked him to leave, lest all travel options be ruled out in the event of a sudden lockdown.
Anurag Singh, a construction worker, too is on his way home with his family. “Back home in UP, the situation is better. We will somehow manage there. I have a farm. At least I won’t have to pay for shelter and food there,” he said.
The workers are also aware that their employers, especially those running small businesses, are not in a position to support them this time. “During the previous lockdown, my employer arranged food and shelter for my family till train services resumed. I returned to work for him when the first lockdown was eased. This time, he asked me to leave early as even he has taken a big hit already due to restricted business days. I understand his problem and am, therefore, leaving,” said Amit Das, a restaurant worker from Bengal.
Sanjay Chavan, the Nashik president of the Association of Bar, Hotels and Restaurants, confirmed that many employees from different states had started leaving Nashik for their respective states. “Restricted business timings have left many without jobs,” he said.