J&K man starts cycling from Mumbai to meet father

J&K man starts cycling 2100 kms from Mumbai to meet ailing father

 Arif. (DH Photo)

 Like lakhs of people under lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, Mohammad Arif from hilly Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir working in Mumbai as a watchman, had no way to get back home to attend to his ailing father.

With all modes of travel blocked, 29-year-old Arif has set off on an arduous journey from Mumbai on a second-hand bicycle to meet his ailing father. A loaf of bread, Rs 800 cash and a small rucksack is all he is having, but the determination to fulfill his father’s last wish is driving him to stay the course.

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A local newspaper which spoke to Arif over the phone has reported that he just begun his journey from Mumbai. “My ailing father, who is in a hospital, wants to see me for the last time,” the newspaper quoted Arif as having said.

Arif, who was working in Abu Dhabi as a driver met with an accident in 2018 and was sent back to India as he had gone there without legal documents. Last month, to start his life afresh after spending 11 months in jail at Abu Dhabi, he travelled to Mumbai in search of a job.

Though he got a job as a watchman in Mumbai Central, his bad luck didn’t end here. He got a call that his father suffered a haemorrhage after being allegedly attacked by some relatives.  “I have no idea when I will reach home. But I am determined to continue my journey come what may. I could not find any other means because there is a curfew and no vehicle is plying,” Arif said.

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In recent days, lakhs of desperate and some hungry migrant workers, like Arif, have been struggling to get back to their home. On March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown across India to contain the spread of COVID-19. Shortly after, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers began long and desperate journeys – often on foot – towards their homes.

Seeing Arif’s plight, some concerned residents of Mumbai have launched a campaign on social media to help him.

“This man is on his way on the bicycle from Mumbai to Rajouri, Jammu & Kashmir. His father is on death bed has no one to look after him. No money for his medical treatment. Is there anyone in Jammu who can help his father? I can put my contribution too. If we can share this post in J&K belt and find help? God knows when will he reach Home. “Aur hosake toh naam mein mazhab mat dhoond na” (sic),” Dipesh Tank, a social activist, wrote on his Facebook wall.