The arduous journey of a bereaved son from Delhi to a village in Bihar amidst the coronavirus lockdown
Long after the governments of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh were done with ferrying Bihari migrants to their homes by busloads, a young daily wage labourer found himself at the Anand Vihar bus terminus in the national capital, grieving for his mother.
Mukesh Yadav alias Dipu (26), who hails from Bhagalpur district, had been crestfallen ever since receiving a call from his father on Monday evening that his mother was killed in a freak accident that left her head severed from her body.
Working as a daily wage earner since he was only 14, Dipu was out of work but had planned to stay back at his shanty in Sarai Kale Khan until receiving the terrible news.
We had been visiting the Anand Vihar bus terminus with food for the hapless migrants ever since the mass exodus began. On Monday evening, the number of people was far less and it appeared that the business of sending off migrants was over. Suddenly we spotted this young man, weeping inconsolably," says Yogita Bhayana, a Delhi-based social worker.
Bhayana, who has been better known for her activism against sexual crimes in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya gang rape incident, swung into action but met with initial disappointment.
"I rang up many legislators and bureaucrats in Delhi for help. They all told me the restrictions on movement of people from one place to another have tightened and it was impossible to help Dipu reach his village and attend his mothers funeral.
"I tweeted furiously, tagging the chief ministers of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, hoping for help to come from whichever corner possible. I was told that my tweets had gone viral, with Bihar politicians like Tejashwi Yadav, Pappu Yadav and Chirag Paswan sharing these on their official handles. However, concrete help eluded us, she told PTI over phone. Bhayana said that it was late in the evening when she got a call from the Resident Commissioner of Bihar Vipin Gupta, who said he had been tipped off about her tweets by the office of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. "Gupta asked me to come right away which I did. He was forthcoming with help and wasted no time in giving a signed and stamped letter authorising travel to Bihar. There was a small obstacle, though, as he said he was not in a position to arrange a vehicle.
मुकेश(दिल्ली)के माता जी का अभी-अभी देहांत हुआ है,यह लड़का भागलपुर,बिहार का रहने वाला है,घर में और कोई सदस्य नहीं है,माँ के अंतिम संस्कार में जाना चाहता है,@NitishKumar जी @yadavtejashwi जी @ArvindKejriwal जी कृपया जल्द से जल्द मदद करें,यह इस लड़के का नम्बर है +91 9773755491 pic.twitter.com/khTKl7oSla
— Yogita Bhayana (@yogitabhayana)
मुकेश(दिल्ली)के माता जी का अभी-अभी देहांत हुआ है,यह लड़का भागलपुर,बिहार का रहने वाला है,घर में और कोई सदस्य नहीं है,माँ के अंतिम संस्कार में जाना चाहता है,@NitishKumar जी @yadavtejashwi जी @ArvindKejriwal जी कृपया जल्द से जल्द मदद करें🙏🙏,यह इस लड़के का नम्बर है +91 9773755491 pic.twitter.com/khTKl7oSla— Yogita Bhayana (@yogitabhayana) March 30, 2020
"My younger brother Hemant, a passionate animal lover, then demonstrated that he cared no less for humans," she remarked fondly.
Hemant took Dipu in his car and took off for a gruelling, more than 1,000 kilometers long drive, around midnight on Tuesday.
"Another associate of ours, Rohit, joined him to take turns at the steering wheel. I had stuffed Hemant's car with food but it could not have kept fatigue at bay," she added.
On Wednesday evening, the car reached Dipu's village in Shahkund block.
Dipu was disappointed that he was not there when his mother was cremated the previous evening but satisfied that at last he was with his family in their hour of grief.
"I shall be indebted to Yogita didi (elder sister) for the rest of my life. She helped me when I had lost all hope. My father was alone. I am the only son. My sisters are married," said Dipu.
Relieved at the mission being accomplished, Bhayana had only one thing in her mind - that her "brother returns home at the earliest".
"I must express my gratitude to Bhagalpur SSP Ashish Bharti whom I had called up for help and who ensured that Hemant reached his destination without any hassles.
"Bharti was kind enough to have arranged a place for the night stay of Hemant and Rohit. It is another thing that they were eager to return and began their journey back home immediately," she added. Bhayana also expressed her gratitude to Manoj Kumar Tiwari, the Superintendent of Police of Gopalganj, for his positive response when she called him to inform that Hemant might halt there for some brief rest and refreshments.
"Bihar officials have surprised me with their humaneness. I wish their counterparts in the Delhi cadre took a leaf out of their book," she remarked.
"Social service is a never-ending journey. Soon after word spread about Dipu, I was approached by Sheikhpura residents Pankaj and Roshan, who have lost their father," Bhayana said. The Bihar Resident Commissioner authorised their travel on Thursday.
"A vehicle has been arranged and the brothers have left for their destination. I pray to the Almighty to make me strong so that I can help more and more people," she added.