Bengal migrant labourers quarantined after trekking 500km from Odisha
Kalyani: Eleven migrant labourers of Murshidabad and Birbhum districts of West Bengal who had trekked all the way from Odisha were stopped by police around 200 km from their homes in Nadia district. The migrant workers are now quarantined in a building in Haringhata block of Nadia. However, while trudging over 500 km, the workers claimed they had not forgotten to put on masks and maintain social distancing.
The district authorities had given them an assurance after stopping them on Wednesday that transport would be provided to take them home, Superintendent of Police Ranaghat police district VSR Anantanag said.
But they were not sent home till Thursday evening.
When contacted, Nadia District Magistrate Vibhu Goel said, “We cannot go beyond the lockdown guidelines. Those people went through thermal screening. But they have to stay in quarantine for the scheduled period as directed by medical experts. “They came from another state. So we have placed them in a new and sanitised building at Nagarukhra in Haringhata, which is going to serve as a quarantine centre in Haringhata block.”
The eleven people, who worked as construction labourers at Badalpur in Puri district, were stopped by the police at Bara Jaguli under Haringhata police station on Wednesday. After they ran out of cash, they had set out for their arduous journey on foot on April 11.
The group was stopped after having crossed over 500 km.
They were served food by locals and the police and were examined by doctors.
Raju Mondal, a resident of Jangipur in Murshidabad said, “We used to work there on daily wage basis. None of the contractors took our responsibility. We waited for a few days but when we realised that the coronavirus-triggered lockdown would continue, we decided to walk home. “We were also running out of money.”
The group trekked along NH 60 for some ten days and reached Kharagpur on the Bengal-Odisha border. From there, they took NH 6 to reach Dankuni in Hooghly, and then Durgapur Expressway to reach Bansberia.
After that they crossed Iswar Gupta Setu and reached Kalyani in Nadia. The police stopped them at Kalyani more and took them to Mohanpur Investigation Centre at Bara Jaguli.
With the little money that they had, the labourers bought puffed rice, biscuits and water en route. “We walked at a stretch for long hours and sometimes took rest,” Salwar Sheikh of Birbhum Rajgram said.
But they did not forget to take precautions.
Saddam Seikh of Muraroi, Birbhum said, “We put on masks and maintained social distancing even while walking”.