Tens of thousands of people flocked to the Anand Vihar-Kaushambi bus depot in the evening on Saturday, in hope of finding a bus to their respective hometowns and native villages.
From the foot overbridge, one could see people on the roads leading to the depot as far as eyes could take you. The police cracked sticks to streamline them and keep a strip of road clear for the vehicular traffic. RSS volunteers wearing black Nehru-caps assisted the police to manage the crowd.
With the scale of the influx, social distancing is a wild impossibility. One woman fainted in the crowd. Meanwhile, the depot announcer says that all buses are stuck at Lal Kuan and all people must go back home.
Amongst the many stranded is Anuj Singh, who is waiting with his family. His hometown is Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
"I heard in the news this morning that the government has arranged 1000 buses. But there is nothing here," he says. He works at a plant where old AC parts are recycled.
Looking at the people jostling against each other, he says, "Ek se ek chipki phir rahi hai public. Ye sab marne ke hain. (The people are packed against each other. They all will die)," referring to the risk such proximity holds in times of spread of the Coronavirus.
On the other side of the road, cops casting long, sinister shadows are telling people to keep moving and keep distance. "There are buses at the Ghazipur depot ahead. Keep moving. Hold hands of your children," a cop says on a loudspeaker. One of the young boys snaps at him, "Koi sawari hi nahin hai".
Meanwhile, a huge gathering was also witnessed at Ghazipur, near Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, where people were waiting to board special buses arranged by the Uttar Pradesh government for their native districts in the neighbouring state.
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