Workers taking a break in Ongole, Andhra Pradesh.

Workers taking a break in Ongole, Andhra Pradesh.

I Drove From Tamilnadu to Delhi During the COVID-19 Lock down. Here’s What I Saw on the Way.

From walking or cycling back in 41 degrees Celsius in Andhra Pradesh to a spell of rain in Telangana early on the morning of May 11, workers were slowly making their way back home.

Workers taking a break in Ongole, Andhra Pradesh.
Workers taking a break in Ongole, Andhra Pradesh.

A police constable at a check-post stopped our car and asked us to park on the roadside. It was about 11:30 am on May 12.

This was when we – 32-year-old cab driver Thangaraj Sampath and I – were cruising along, believing that our long road journey from Chennai to Delhi would end in a few hours. We were about to cross Madhya Pradesh into Uttar Pradesh, with a brief stretch of Dholpur in Rajasthan in between.

I had procured an e-pass for the long journey – beginning on May 10 and ending on May 12, with fortuitous night halts for a few hours in virtually empty guest houses – that was about to come to a relieving end.

I got out of the car and asked the constable at the check-post what the matter was, as I had a valid e-pass to drive from Chennai to Delhi in a car not having more than two passengers.

The constable said that migrant labourers had jammed the road ahead. I could see a crowd of people on the highway, the distance having reduced them to small specks on a road that was largely empty, save the trucks that were parked ahead of us. I could also see vehicles parked on the road on the opposite side, awaiting a go-ahead the way I did.

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