New Delhi: A total of 177 migrants who were stranded in Mumbai who had resigned to taking the long-way-home on foot and by hitch-hiking, on Thursday got a free-of-cost flight all to themselves to return home to Ranchi, Jharkhand, making it the first such instance in the country since the lockdown was imposed. Also Read - Swara Bhasker-Kunal Kamra-Mallika Dua And Others Stage Outrage After Instagram Influencer Shubham Mishra Gives Open Rape Threat to Comedian Agrima Joshua

An Air Asia flight carrying the migrant workers and their children left the western metropolis at 6:25 AM and reached Ranchi, the Jharkhand capital, around 8:25 AM, an airline spokesperson said. Also Read - Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, His Wife Test Negative For Coronavirus

According to the spokesperson, Air Asia lent a helping hand to the National Law School (NLS) alumni association, leasing them a 180-seater A320 plane, a first such charter operation by the budget carrier since passenger services resumed on May 25. Also Read - Unlock 2: After Hotels, Maharashtra Govt Now Plans to Open Restaurants, Gymnasiums Soon

The Bengaluru law school alumni teamed up with a few NGOs for crowdfunding a bus, to “assist and repatriate” migrants stuck in Mumbai without jobs, food, some of whom even suffered beatings and physical injuries. Later, Air Asia came forward and offered to subsidise its aircraft for their purpose.

“AirAsia India is proud to be a part of this initiative that helps migrant workers, adversely impacted by the lockdown, reach their homes and families. We have been working closely with the organisers, alumni of the National Law School, who we understand have independently crowdfunded their efforts to assist and repatriate migrant workers from Mumbai to Ranchi,” an official of the domestic carrier said.

Shyel Trehan, one of those behind the initiative, said in the statement, “We are happy to have made this very small contribution to addressing a massive travesty. I would like to thank AirAsia for all their support.”

“This was a massive group effort with Priya Sharma, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, and the alumni from the National Law School working together,” he added.

Earlier this evening, the Supreme Court ordered state and railways authorities to ensure that no migrant suffers lack of basic facilities like food and shelter or is seen travelling on foot.

“Those migrant workers found travelling on foot should be immediately taken to shelters and provided food and all basic facilities… No bus/train fare shall be charged from migrant workers. They should be provided with food by the state; railways to provide food and water on trains,” the apex court said.