Mangaluru, April 5, 2020: As many as 19 labourers who left Kerala on foot to reach their homes in different parts of North Karnataka, are stuck at the state border at Talapady, for the past two days. Mangaluru police have stopped them from entering the state due to the strict inter-state border restrictions imposed to check the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dakshina Kannada district administration’s decision not to allow migrant labourers to enter their home state is in stark contrast with that of the Kodagu district administration, which has sheltered hundreds of migrant labourers returning from Kerala.
The authorities defend their decision, citing the severe spread of infection in Kasaragod, which has reported more than 110 coronavirus positive cases so far. Labourers from Dharwad, Koppal, Gadag and other districts had migrated to Neeleshwar town near Kasaragod, for work. They exhausted their earnings within a few days after the nationwide lockdown came into effect, following which they decided to head home.
As there were no buses or any other transport facility, they reached Talapady by foot after covering nearly 100km. They survived on biscuits and water during their two-day journey and spent the last two nights by the side of the highway, near a petrol pump on the inter-state border.
Siddique Talapady, a taluk panchayat member who along with his friends, arranged for their food on Saturday, said these labourers’ situation has become pathetic with both states not willing to help them. Following his request, the Ullal circle inspector got in touch with district officials, but they were not willing to help them, citing the COVID-19 situation being serious in Kasaragod. “At least they should put them under observation, if they have any apprehensions. They have come here with a hope,” Siddique said.