Lack of work and dwindling finances coupled with "inadequate supply" of food made life so miserable for a group of around 100 migrant workers in Kerala that they took the extreme step of setting out on a long march on foot back home thousands of kilometers away.
In a related development, another group of migrant workers from Bihar allegedly indulged in stone-pelting and tried to manhandle police in Kuttiyadi near Kozhikode demanding early return to their home state, police said.
At Vallapatnam near here, home to many plywood industries, the migrant workers carrying water cans and some of their belongings, started walking along railway tracks on the ardous journey early on Tuesday.
"We want to go back to our home states. Food was being served only once a day and we have no money. There is no work here," workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh rued in chorus after being spotted by Railway Police Force (RPF) personnel and taken to camps.
However, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan later said the workers were only heading to the Kannur railway station and not to their home states by walk.
"The guest workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar reached Kannur railway station demanding a train to go to their natives. However, police and district administration pacified them and sent them back to their camps," he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
He also said that a DySP-level officer would visit the camps and convey the initiatives taken by the government to send back the guest workers to their states.
"The state police also stopped a group of 17 guest workers who attempted to cycle their way to Odisha. They were also sent back to their camps. We have informed all the guest workers that they can return once the train service is resumed or the special train is allotted," Vijayan added.
The workers in Kannur complained that they were not getting adequate food at the camps and the government was not arranging any trains to help them return to their homes.
Some labourers alleged they were getting only 2 kg wheat for a family of four for a week and sought to know how they would be able to manage.
"We want to go home. We are even prepared to walk," Sushil Kumar said.
The workers were stopped by the police, who pacified them and sent them back to their camps in three KSRTC buses.
Meanwhile, the district officials said the complaints made by the workers would be looked into.
A report from Kozhikode said around 100 migrant workers gathered at the bazar area in Kittiyadi in violation of lockdown norms and demanded special trains for ferrying them to Bihar.
When police personnel rushed to the spot in an effort to pacify the workers and send them back to their camps, the latter pelted them with stones, police said.
Besides attempting to manhandle the police personnel, they also tried to snatch the batons before the situation was brought under control.
Three of the workers were arrested and later let out on bail, police said.
Kozhikode Rural Superintendent of Police Dr A Srinivas said a case had been registered for lockdown violation.
The workers were agitated over the delay in train services to Bihar while services were operated to Jharkand and Odisha a few days ago.
Police officials had informed the workers that they would try to accommodate them in the next Shramik train to Bihar.
Till May 15, a total of 33,000 guest workers have left Kerala by 29 trains to their home states.
The Centre has last week asked the state governments to provide food and shelter to migrant workers if they are found walking on roads and railways tracks, and ensure they board special trains to reach their native places.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)