Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Utilizamos cookies, próprios e de terceiros, que o reconhecem e identificam como um usuário único, para garantir a melhor experiência de navegação, personalizar conteúdo e anúncios, e melhorar o desempenho do nosso site e serviços. Esses Cookies nos permitem coletar alguns dados pessoais sobre você, como sua ID exclusiva atribuída ao seu dispositivo, endereço de IP, tipo de dispositivo e navegador, conteúdos visualizados ou outras ações realizadas usando nossos serviços, país e idioma selecionados, entre outros. Para saber mais sobre nossa política de cookies, acesse link.

Caso não concorde com o uso cookies dessa forma, você deverá ajustar as configurações de seu navegador ou deixar de acessar o nosso site e serviços. Ao continuar com a navegação em nosso site, você aceita o uso de cookies.

These Gut-Wrenching Photos Show What Happens When A Coronavirus Lockdown Backfires

A lockdown in India that aimed to mitigate the spread of the virus has left huge numbers of people with no other choice but to walk hundreds of miles home in large groups.

Posted on March 30, 2020, at 1:23 p.m. ET

The journalists at BuzzFeed News are proud to bring you trustworthy and relevant reporting about the coronavirus. To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter, Outbreak Today.

NEW DELHI — Migrant workers are being doused with disinfectant after being forced to walk hundreds of miles home as India grapples with the coronavirus.

Shocking pictures show huge crowds of people unable to practice social distancing because there is no other way of returning to their home villages, and when they finally do arrive, they are in some cases being sprayed with chemicals.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a total lockdown with no warning and very little time to prepare last Tuesday. As a result, migrant workers who travel to the cities for work suddenly found themselves unable to earn money or feed their families, leaving them with no choice but to return to their home states — literally carrying all their belongings on their backs, often accompanied by children and elderly parents.

The heartbreaking images of this mass exodus have exposed the class difference between the workforce of construction site laborers, waste collectors, cooks, and house painters who keep Indian cities running and the city-dwellers they work for.

While some states have set up soup kitchens to feed workers and instructed police to hand out food and relief packages, others have chosen the worst possible route to deal with crowds of hungry, frightened, and despairing people. In Gujarat — Modi’s home state in west India — clashes broke out after police arrested 90 migrant laborers who wanted to leave for their homes. In Uttar Pradesh, a state in north India, workers were lined up and sprayed down with a chemical that authorities claimed was “a disinfectant.”

India’s health ministry says it has recorded 1,071 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. According to the government, these people either picked up the virus on their travels outside the country or were directly exposed to someone else with history of travel to COVID-19 affected countries. The government claims there have been no cases of “community transmission” or instances where doctors could not trace where someone had picked up the virus.

But the images of large crowds of people journeying home have raised fears that a lockdown designed to slow the transmission of the coronavirus may actually end up spreading it. People face a more immediate concern: hunger and exhaustion. Twenty-two people are reported to have died while journeying home, including six children, the youngest of whom was just 1 year old.

Pawan Kumar / Reuters

A municipal worker sprays disinfectant on migrant workers before they board a bus in Lucknow on March 30.

Anushree Fadnavis / Reuters

Migrant workers crowd outside a bus station on the outskirts of New Delhi on March 28.

Hindustan Times / Getty Images

Migrant workers head back to their homes from New Delhi on March 29.

Hindustan Times / Getty Images

Migrant workers head back to their homes in Patna, India.

Sopa Images via Getty Images

A migrant woman with a baby in New Delhi.

Sopa Images via Getty Images

Migrants waiting to board a bus in New Delhi.

Hindustan Times / Getty Images

Local residents distribute food to migrant workers and families at Zirakpur Ambala Highway, in Chandigarh, India.

Hindustan Times / Getty Images

Migrant workers take shelter inside DAV School in Patna, India.

Adnan Abidi / Reuters

A migrant worker's family sits along a highway after they failed to get a bus to return to their village on the outskirts of New Delhi on March 29.

Anushree Fadnavis / Reuters

A soldier on guard stands next to migrant workers as they wait for buses along a highway in Ghaziabad on March 28.

Adnan Abidi / Reuters

Migrant workers travel on a crowded bus in Ghaziabad on the outskirts of New Delhi on March 29.

Amit Dave / Reuters

Migrant workers board a truck to return to their villages from Ahmedabad on March 29.

Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

Migrant workers climb out of a refrigerated truck after they were stopped by police in New Delhi on March 30.

Hindustan Times / Getty Images

Migrant workers and families head back to their homes on foot on March 29.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.