Few Hours Later, MP CM Announces That Govt Will Bring Back Those Stranded

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In a desperate attempt to reach home, a migrant worker from MP’s Sidhi walked nearly 60km, without food or water, before collapsing in a jungle in Maharashtra and dying on April 24.

Few hours later, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that the government would bring back labourers stranded in various parts of the country. By then, Motilal Sahu’s impoverished kin pooled together Rs35,000 to bring his body back to their village, Tilai, in Bahri.

The ambulance carrying 38-yearold Sahu crossed Bhopal on Saturday afternoon, with home 700km away. He tried to cover 1,400km on foot, on an empty stomach.

Sahu is survived by wife and three daughters. He worked as a house painter in Navi Mumbai and got stuck there due to the lockdown. Out of money and food, he and around 50 migrant workers, including nine from MP, set off on foot. “They had decided to wait out the first lockdown, but when the second was announced, they knew they were out of options as they had nothing but the clothes,” said Sahu’s cousin Sanjay told TOI.

Sub-inspector Kamlakar Munde of Kalyan police station told TOI the group started from Nerul around 2.30am on April 22. “Some had mobile phones and were leading with GPS directions. Around 8am, they reached Khadawali village and spent the hours there. At 5pm, Motilal collapsed. They called up 108 and we learnt about it. The others moved ahead after Motilal collapsed, but Suresh Sahoo, from his neighbouring village, stayed with him,” said Munde.

Sanjay said the group trekked through the interiors to avoid police patrolling on roads. “They had not found anything to eat or drink for over 24 hours when they saw water in a jungle. My cousin drank the water and fell unconscious. It took them three hours to find a hospital. By then, he died,” Sanjay said.

The administration helped bring the body to Thane. “Police at Kalyan sent the body for post-mortem and arranged for permission to bring the body home. After autopsy, the body was put in an ambulance on April 24. By 2pm on Saturday, it crossed Bhopal. We hope it will reach our village late at night,” he said.

Bahri police station in-charge Ram Singh Patel said a police officer from Maharashtra called to confirm that he was a resident of Tilwai village.

“The family is very poor and lost its only breadwinner. They had to pay Rs35,000 for the ambulance. We arranged for the money,” Sanjay said, adding that others in the group were probably stopped by the administration.

Sidhi collector Ravindra Kumar Chowdhary said it was a tragic incident, and they will help the family.