Crossing the Seven Sea: Migration crisis during COVID-19 with reference to Uttar Pradesh

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Wars, conflict and natural disasters displaced 14.6 million people in 127 countries from January-June 2020 (DTE, 2020). Just to elaborate, mankind is facing the worst pandemic ever, leading to huge loss of life and crippling the economy. Among there are the disadvantaged and poor section, who are worst affected in the present times. Union government implementation of lockdown across the country to curtail the transmission of virus and protect people from COVID-19 threat, turned into a major economic crisis for urban poor in general and migrants in particular apart from health hazard. With the announcement of lockdown 1.0, migrant workers from the big cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Chennai started rushing back to their native place. Uttar Pradesh, houses about 20 million population, provides majority of informal workers to all these large cities. Just to quote from various reports several migrants died due heat (summer time), hunger and thirst. Incidences of administration brutality were also brought to light where some cops and administration were seen showing brutality towards them, including chemical sanitization, which could lead to skin irritation, eye irritation, respiratory system damage and kidney problems. Complete lockdown means no transport facilities were available, forcing large flock of human flow from cities to rural parts on foot or any means possible. Present research looks to analyse the plights of migrant workers during COVID-19 in the face of any pandemic. The study is based on the secondary data analysis, whereby both qualitative and quantitative techniques have been used. It was concluded that despite the lockdown and hardship associated the migrant workers were ready to travel any distance to reach their native place, (sense of belongingness). They were hopeful of reaching their village in whatever way possible, ready to march on cycle, walk back barefoot, buses, trains or any other means possible. The scenes of young people’s dragging their parents and kids caught the eyes of everyone, lifting them on their shoulders, child birth taking place on road and group of people crushed by running vehicle. The mass movement also sent government in wary and frenzy as they were unable to meet the demand for necessary items like food and water. Pandemic followed by delay in planning led migrants questioning their very existence and were jeopardised, fighting against pandemic is secondary and staying alive id primary. Though UP government made efforts to arrange bus services, but more needs to be done so as the migrants can cope up to the challenge’s posed by COVID-19.

Keywords: Migrants, COVID-19, Discrimination, Hunger, Lockdown and Social Justice

Article Details

Mr Aakash Upadhyay
Mr Shahid Jamal
Dr. Rachna Dua
Author Biographies

Mr Aakash Upadhyay, Delhi University

A PhD scholar from Delhi University. 

Mr Shahid Jamal, University of Delhi

PhD Scholar in the Department of Geography, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University.

Dr. Rachna Dua, Shyama Prasad Mukherji College

Associate Professor, Shyama Prasad Mukherji College, University of Delhi


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