Migrant woman labourer walks 160 km after giving birth to baby on roadside

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Indu Bhagat

Pune, May 12, 2020: The fight against the coronavirus pandemic is having the worst effects among the people who can least afford it. Indian migrant workers feel “helpless” as they have been cut off from their families due to the nationwide lockdown.

The lockdown halted transport and shut borders forcing many families and the migrant workers to walk hundreds of kilometres on foot to reach their homes. Shakuntala, the wife of a migrant labourer, walked back home from Nashik in Maharashtra to Satna in Madhya Pradesh and gave birth to a child en route their journey. The delivery took place by the roadside on Agra-Mumbai highway on May 5. No doctor or nurse but four women who were walking with her helped her in the delivery. The new mother continued the journey after resting for an hour.

A police inspector noticed the newborn baby in her arms and enquired if she needed anything. Shakuntala had covered 70 km before giving birth and 160 km after that. Shakuntala’s husband narrated their ordeal. “In Dhule, a Sikh family gave some clothes and other essentials for the newborn child”, her husband said.

Shakuntala’s husband and other people walking with them lost their jobs in Nashik due to the shutdown of industries. With no money left, they decided to walk to their homes in Madhya Pradesh. As per the media reports the administration has now arranged for their safe journey. A bus is taking the woman, her children, including the newborn, and her husband to their native village.

The pandemic is changing the face of the Indian labourers. The workers have not only lost their meagre income but their jobs too.