The whole world has been plagued by COVID-19, forcing people to stay put inside their houses. However, in India, where a majority of the unorganised sector doesn’t have a roof over their heads, it has led to one of the biggest man-made disasters of the 21st century – the mass migration of labourers. 

Al Jazeera

Now, while we have the luxury to sit on our sofas and feel bad for the less fortunate, criticise the govt and thank the Lord for the privilege he’s afforded us, there are journalists, who are making sure that the stories of these migrant labourers get told. There are scribes who are making sure these people don’t just end up a number, a mere statistic in the larger scheme of things. 


One such scribe is veteran journalist, Barkha Dutt, who has been travelling with migrant labourers, practically since the lockdown began. 


Interestingly, while doing so, she has also managed to bring back some respect to the role of a news anchor and most importantly, to that of a journalist. 


Last Saturday, 26 migrant labourers had died in Auraiya, 200 kilometres from Lucknow, at around 3.30 AM. More than 30 were injured as two trucks ferrying migrant labourers collided on the highway. 

But the bodies of their ‘nameless’ workers were put in plastic bags on slabs of ice on an open truck and sent home by UP administration. Naturally, the ice melted.

It was only after Dutt’s report on the matter, that social media along with other major news portals, picked it up, forcing the administration to shift them to ambulances!

She even busted the myth about migrant workers getting a free passage home with her story about charging Rs 3,000 rupees per passenger for a seat at the back of a crowded truck. 

She has been in the slums of Dharavi where a BMC worker died despite being tested negative twice. 3 days after his death, he was found to be positive. In that time, 2 others in the family also tested positive.

Dutt has not only brought some of the most heart-wrenching stories of the largest mass exodus since the partition in 1947, but she has also found stories of hope and brotherhood, irrespective of the communal pyre we have been seeing lit up every night on TV. 


While calling out the torment caused by this lockdown, she has also found children of this war, albeit not without hope and a resolve to ensure nobody goes hungry when they grow up. 


There are hundreds of stories like these throughout her 63-day journey, a few of which are of hope , but most of which reek of grief, of misery and of death and the apathy of the central and state governments alike. 


Being on the road for more than 60 days, covering the lives of India’s least fortunate, can’t be an easy job but it’s a job that needs to be done. 


Barkha Dutt, once the face of a civilian nation during the Kargil War in 1999, has once again become a voice of the pariahs for a nation that is neither civilian nor deaf in this war but continues to pretend as much.