An 11-year-old boy pedals tricycle cart for 600 km to transport his parents from Varanasi to Araria

As a symbolic gesture and after identifying with the sufferings of migrant workers, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) has announced an immediate financial help of Rs 1,10,000
Tabaarak is the fifth of six children
Tabaarak is the fifth of six children

An 11-year-old boy pedalled a tricycle cart for 9 consecutive days to transport his parents from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to their village Araria in Bihar covering a distance of around 600 kilometres recently, amidst the lockdown. As a symbolic gesture and after identifying with the sufferings of migrant workers, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) has announced an immediate financial help of Rs 1,10,000 and offered help for the boy Tabaarak's higher education.

AIBEA General Secretary Venkatachalam informing this to UNI on Thursday said that Tabaarak is the fifth of six children. His elder brother is stranded in Tamil Nadu. He has three sisters, one of whom is married. The family is landless and lives in a hut on land owned by someone else in a village under Araria's Jokihat block.

His mother, Sogra, had been blinded in an injury while cutting paddy crop and his father Israfil, who used to work in a marble shop in Varanasi for 20 years, had met with an accident which left him with a fractured leg. "I had my parents with me, thousands of people were walking on the way," he said when AIBEA asked how he mustered the courage to undertake such a journey.

The father and son used to stay together in Varanasi, far from their home in Araria. But in February, Israfil made the journey to Varanasi alone. Tabaarak and his mother left for Varanasi when they came to know he had fractured his leg. They reached there before the lockdown and have been stranded since then.

"A stone fell on my foot on the fourth day of work, and the owner of the shop got me medical treatment. My wife and son had visited me just before lockdown. We ran out of food. I have a tricycle cart, so we started the journey thinking that we are dying here (in Varanasi) anyway. But, god, and the people we met on the way helped us reach home safely," said 55-year-old Israfil.

Tabaarak and Israfil are now at a quarantine facility in a government school near their village in Jokihat. Sogra is at home as there is no separate arrangement for women at the centre. She told the media that they were compelled to take this challenging journey. "My husband had pain in his leg, so my son pedalled the cart. We were helpless, we had no other option. We would have starved to death there. My two daughters were at home. Now we can die here at least among our children," Sogra said.

"Neighbours and the shop owner helped us with rations for the journey. We carried an LPG cylinder and other belongings with us. We would sleep on the roadside and cook food wherever we could get water," she further added. Tabaarak's story of personal courage and persistence is only one of the many such stories emerging during the nationwide lockdown, which has tested migrant labourers the most. In the initial days of the suddenly announced lockdown, with no option but to walk or cycle to their native places from the cities where they worked, several migrants battled extreme fatigue and hunger, Venkatachalam said.

Several weeks later, when the government allowed trains to ferry them, lack of information on services led even more migrants to take to the roads in trucks and on foot. Several accidents took place, and more than 400 migrants have died, the AIBEA General Secetary said. He said AIBEA decides to help Tabaraak. We have contacted the family through Anirudh Kumar, Joint Secretary of AIBEA from Bihar.

Tabaraak family is extremely poor and the boy is studying in 6th standard. Hence AIBEA has decided to extend help to the family. An Immediate financial help of Rs 1,10,000 as a monthly interest bearing Deposit Receipt to take care of his school uniform, books and other requirements upto 12th Standard.

We have also decided that after the boy completes 12th Standard and if he wants to pursue higher education, AIBEA will extend financial help to undertake the expenses for his entire higher studies, either for Engineering or Medicine or IAS as the family may decide, Venkatachalam said.

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