Name: Mohammad Salim
Hometown: Bansa, Uttar Pradesh
Returned from: Maheshwari, Madhya Pradesh
Mohammad Salim migrated to Maheshwari in Madhya Pradesh with his wife and kids because of the decline in employment opportunities in Bansa. The lockdown announcement eliminated the only source of income pushing the family to rely on savings as they waited for work to resume. Two and a half months later, the lockdown extended further, and by then, he had exhausted most of the savings. Salim’s family sent money for their son and his family to rent a safe ride back home.
Interviewer: What was your reaction to the Covid-19 virus? How did it affect your livelihood initially?
Mohammad Salim: I first heard about the spread of the Covid-19 virus in China. The doctor who diagnosed a patient with the virus in Wuhan, China, died. Then onwards, the virus spread globally. The official authorities were not employing necessary measures to avoid further spread.
In the subsequent days, the lockdown closed down my only source of income, the contractor rejected all my calls, and there were rent and food expenses for my family. I waited for work to restart for two and a half months, yet the cases were suggesting the contrary. My family in Uttar Pradesh sent some money to hire a vehicle for a ride back home. It cost Rs. 23,000 for the 8 of us to rent transportation to Uttar Pradesh.
The policemen did not cause a hassle through the ride back. Once they verified our documents at the Jhansi border and another brief checking 100 k.m. down the road. I braced myself for the worst before leaving Madhya Pradesh. I could have died, but it’d be while I was at home or trying to reach home. I prefer it over starving to death.
Interviewer: Do you have any demands or expectations from the government?
Mohammad Salim: I have no expectations from the government. Why would I? The Prime Minister set-up a fund for migrant laborers; where is my money? Neither state nor central government is attending to the matters of the poor. We did not receive ration or money despite our registering for both, yet they spent on a statue that costs Rs.300 crores of tax-payers money. Everyone is selfish nowadays; they all want money.
In addition to all this, the local news channels are repeatedly broadcasting propaganda. The relevance of media has diminished in the country due to government interventions in the production of content.