From Migrant Crisis To Farmers’ Protest

The coronavirus lockdown forced migrant workers to walk a long way back to their homes

New Delhi:

The year 2020 has been extremely challenging for the entire world. An unprecedented pandemic, a global lockdown, civil unrests across the world and a hard-hit economy were just some of the adversities the planet faced. As 2020 draws to a close, we look at 10 defining images of the year and the stories behind the photos.

1. Shaheen Bagh Protest

The new citizenship law saw widespread protests across the country and swept Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh earlier this year. Hundreds of protesters, mainly women and children, camped out at Shaheen Bagh in south Delhi for over three months earlier this year to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the NRC (National Register of Citizens) and NPR (National Popular Register). Shortly before the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the protesters were cleared citing social distancing concerns.

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Like the Shaheen Bagh protesters, thousands of people protested against the new citizenship law

2. Delhi Riots

Northeast Delhi was rocked by communal violence in February this year leaving behind widespread destruction. 53 people died and over 200 were injured in the violence that began with a clash between groups for and against the citizenship law CAA.

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Schools and cars were set on fire during the February riots in northeast Delhi

3. The Coronavirus Lockdown 

The whole world dealt with an unprecedented challenge this year as a deadly disease shrouded the planet. The novel coronavirus, that originated in China’s Wuhan in December 2019, affected the whole world in 2020, killing over 1.6 million. Entire countries were shut down to stop the spread, in phases or at one go, including India, that saw widespread loss of jobs and even lives. The lockdown in India, that started in March, has been slowly lifted in phases through the year.

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A deserted road in New Delhi during the coronavirus lockdown in March

4. Migrant Crisis In India Due To Lockdown

As the lockdown hit India to stop the spread of coronavirus, lakhs of people lost their jobs. Daily wage labourers, mostly migrant workers in cities, were left stranded without a job or money or even a roof over their heads. They started their rigorous journeys home – back to villages in far-away states – on foot, sometimes hitching a ride. With tiny children on their shoulders and luggage behind them, many of their journeys were cut short as they died on the long way back home.

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A boy seen sleeping on a suitcase being wheeled by his mother

5. Migrant Worker Weeping Over Dead Son On Road

A migrant worker’s heart-breaking photo while crying on the roadside in Delhi amid the lockdown was shared widely. Rampukar Pandit became the face of India’s migrant crisis. He had just lost his son and was weeping inconsolably over a phone call when his helplessness was captured in a photograph.

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Rampukar Pandit took a long and arduous journey from Delhi to reach his hometown after his son’s death

6. George Floyd Killing, Black Lives Matter Protests

“I can’t breathe” – these words rung in the years of millions across the world as the news of George Floyd’s custodial death flashed across TV screens. The 46-year-old African-American man died as a white policeman pressed his knee on his neck for over nine and half minutes in United States’ Minneapolis. Massive protests followed in the country for “Black Lives Matter” – spreading to over 60 countries across the world.

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Derek Chauvin was filmed on May 25 pressing his knee on a handcuffed George Floyd’s neck

7. Hong Kong Security Law Passed Amid Protests

In June, China passed a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong, a historic move that critics and many western governments said will smother the finance hub’s freedoms and hollow out its autonomy. Millions took to the streets last year while a smaller hardcore of protesters frequently battled police this year in often violent confrontations that saw more than 9,000 arrested.

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Police detain a man as they clear protesters taking part in a rally against the new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020

8. PM Modi At Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the first symbolic brick – a 40-kg silver brick – for a grand Ram Temple at Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya at a mega ceremony in August this year. PM Modi returned to the holy city after 29 years to participate in the “Bhoomi Pujan” or a groundbreaking ceremony for the temple. PM Modi lay down to offer prayers to infant Ram or Ram Lalla before taking part in other rituals and addressing the people present.

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PM Modi had vowed that he would return to Ayodhya only when a Ram temple was built in the holy city

9. Kamala Harris To Be First Woman Vice-President Of US

While taking a jog, US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received a historic news. She had been elected as the Vice President of the United States. Ms Harris will be the first woman, the first Black American and the first American of Asian descent to serve as vice president, the country’s No. 2 office. She called Joe Biden, the President-elect and said, “We did it.” After long days of counting and many controversies later, US elected a new president in Joe Biden with Kamala Harris as his No. 2.

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Kamala Harris was out jogging when she got the big news

10. Farmers’ Protest

The ongoing farmers’ protest in another defining moment this year. For over two weeks, thousands of farmers have camped at Delhi border points protesting against the new agriculture bills braving water cannons, tear gas and barricades. Several rounds of talks have taken place with the government that has failed to break the deadlock as the farmers say they will settle for nothing less than complete deletion of the laws.

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The protesting farmers had called for a Bharat Bandh as well earlier this month

The year also saw the deaths of some greats including Argentine footballer Diego Maradona, former president Pranab Mukherjee, US judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ‘Black Panther’ actor Chadwick Boseman, veteran actor Soumitro Chatterjee among others. US President Donald Trump visited India to a rousing welcome, Britain’s Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle formally quit the royal family and Australia was ravaged by bushrfires – 2020 was a year full shocks and surprises. 

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