Amidst the nationwide lockdown that was imposed in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak in India, thousands of migrants have been stranded in various parts of the country. With no job, limited food, and money, several daily wage labourers began their journey homewards, mostly on foot.
The Union Government then decided to run special Shramik trains to help the migrant workers reach home, without any hassles, in co-ordination with the respective State Governments. By May 14, over 10 lac labourers were sent to their hometowns in 800 such special trains.
Besides the Government, several good Samaritans have come to the rescue of such daily wage workers. One of them is a 46-year-old actor Sonu Sood. On Friday, a Twitter user named Arvind Pandey had shared the picture of the first-class pass of Mumbai local train that was used by actor Sonu Sood in the year 1998.
In his tweet, Pandey wrote, “The one who has struggled in life can only understand the hardship faced by others. Sonu Sood would travel with a ₹420 pass at one time.” The actor humbly replied, “Life is a full circle.” Sonu Sood who rose to prominence for his role as a villain in reel life has turned out to be a Messiah for the stranded migrants. But, how did it all start?
Life is a full circle ⭕️ https://t.co/XTVp1ysRaz— sonu sood (@SonuSood) May 29, 2020
Facilitating Bus Rides for migrant workers
As a part of his ‘Ghar Bhejo‘ (send home) campaign, actor Sonu Sood has facilitated the journey of around 12,000 migrant workers to their native villages, via special buses. Besides, further arrangements for food and water have been made for another 45,000 people.
Reportedly, his team has set a toll-free number, 18001213711, wherein migrants can make requests to the actor for facilitating their ride to their respective homes. Sood reached out to his friends who held him contact transport authorities, police officials, and State Governments for the necessary permissions.
First, he sent 350 migrant workers to Karnataka after obtaining clearance from the administration and putting in all safety protocols in place. There was no looking back for the ‘Dabbang’ actor. Buses arranged by Sonu Sood had since then travelled to Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka, carrying migrant workers. He is looking forward to sending migrants to States such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana where permissions have been difficult to obtain.
Sood conceded that Shramik Express had resolved the humanitarian crisis to a large extent but emphasised on the need for more buses. The actor said that it was a satisfying experience to help people reunite with their family members. He added that there are millions of people who need help, amidst the pandemic, and he will remain undeterred in his endeavour until the last person reaches his home. Micromanagement has been tough and as such his friends had volunteered to pick up migrants from different areas to the bus stops.
According to Sood, members from Bollywood had also pitched in to help. Reportedly, film director Farah Khan has helped organise water for everyone involved in the evacuation mission, besides inquiring about additional requirements on a daily basis. Although the actor had refused to reveal the expenditure, estimates suggest that it is anywhere between ₹65,000 to ₹2,00,000 per bus ride. Inspired by his actions, people have come forward to help migrants with food and water.
Facilitating the stay of doctors
In April, actor Sonu Sood had opened the doors of his hotel in Mumbai for doctors and other healthcare workers who have been working tirelessly, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. He revealed that he had informed both the government-run and private hospitals about the fact that the doctors and paramedics can use his hotel as a residential facility.
Speaking to Times of India, Sood said, “It’s my honour to be able to do my bit for the doctors, nurses and para-medical staff of our country, who have been working day and night to save people’s lives. They hail from different parts of Mumbai and need a place to rest.”
Sonu Sood books Chartered Plane for migrants
On Friday, actor Sonu Sood reportedly facilitated the journey of 150 women labourers along with 9 other workers from a wood factory from Kerala to the State of Odisha via a chartered flight. The women who worked at a textile factory were stranded in the Communist-ruled State for a long time.
Amidst the lockdown, they were left with little money to spare. Moreover, the Shramik trains were not immediately available. In a first, the migrant workers were evacuated in a special chartered plane. As per Air Asia officials, the journey was facilitated by the actor after he came to know about their plight. The flight departed from Kochi at 8 am and reached Bhubaneshwar at 10:30 am. Reportedly, the women who worked at the textile factory were from Kendrapara in Odisha.
Sonu Sood on being a Good Samaritan
While speaking to ANI, the actor confessed, “I was deeply saddened to see them walking with their little children on foot. These are the people who built our houses, our offices, they have laid the roads and I feel that we should not leave them in such distress.”
Sonu Sood thus felt the need to come forward, amidst the humanitarian crisis, and help make necessary arrangements to facilitate the transport of migrant workers to their hometown, in coordination with local and State Governments. He added, “I always believe that expressing grief on social media isn’t enough, it is very important to take some action. I don’t say that everyone should come out for help but I feel that God has made me his source for helping them.”
The actor was touched by how migrants would sing songs and clap for him while leaving for their hometowns. In one such heart-warming instance of gratitude, a pregnant migrant worker whom he had helped, amidst the lockdown, had named her new-born soon as Sonu Sood Shrivastava. Indeed, life seems to have come toa full circle for the villain-turned hero.