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Spent the day on Mumbai's borders, amidst the unending exodus of migrant workers. Here is why #SelfReliantIndia is not really a choice.
Illyas has been waiting on the highway in Thane for 2 days. He had 100 rupees, borrowed money from 20 people and now has 500. He wants to go back home to West Bengal.
All three, barely out of their teens, used to work at a restaurant in Thane and hail from West Bengal. A truck owner agreed to take them home but is charging them Rs 5,500 EACH.
This truck is headed to Varanasi. Each occupant was paying Rs 3000, with at least 50 of them crammed into it.
Almost everyone I spoke told me that they hadn't been paid their wages, nor did the Maharashtra police help them figure when they would be able to go back. Left with little choice, many started walking or found these trucks. #SelfReliantIndia, indeed, no?
There's a cruel irony in issuing a call to be self reliant when you inflict such tragedies on the most vulnerable of your citizens. Like Devendra Prasad, who broke down while talking. At 52, he is being forced to spend days and nights on highways trying to get back to Motihari.
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