Rampukar Pandit said he would never return to the city where he worked as a migrant worker.
Amid a flood of images showing the plight of migrant workers during India’s coronavirus lockdown, the photo of the 38-year-old man crying beside the road went viral.
In an instant, he became a symbol of his country’s migrant crisis.
“I will not return to Delhi at any cost,” he told the ABC from his hometown of Bihar.
India’s economic dependence on migrants from across the country came to light when the country was forced into a national lockdown with just four hours’ notice.
In the days that followed, hundreds of thousands of workers risked their lives with hundreds of kilometers to their hometowns and villages.
Some have been forced out of their workplaces, while others are eager to get out of the city and return to their homes and families.
It will take weeks before the Government builds trains and buses to help migrant workers return home, but these efforts are also problematic.
Rampukar himself was working on a construction site in Delhi when he decided it was time to head to his hometown.
It was a long journey home in May when his wife called to tell him their son was seriously ill.
He was still trapped more than 1,000 kilometers from home and police refused to allow him to continue, citing the lockdown law.