The actor, with the help of his friends Neeti Goel, Pankaj Jalisatgi and Harsh Sikariya, has been arranging buses to help them return home.
He says, “I went all out to help these migrants because I was a migrant, too, who came to Mumbai with a lot of dreams. When I saw photographs of their sufferings and read heart-wrenching stories of how they are walking thousands of kilometres without food and water, it reminded me of my early days. I first came to Mumbai by train, without a reserved ticket. I stood by the door and slept in the space next to the washroom. I know what struggle is.”
So far, Sonu and his team have managed to send buses to Karnataka, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. His wife Sonali and sons Eshaan and Ayaan, too, have joined him in his endeavour. “We recently started a helpline, on which we have been receiving calls from distressed migrants. When I get a call, my wife notes it down and the kids make a list of who will go in which bus,” says the actor, who also looks into the paperwork for the travel, including medical test reports.
His friends from the film industry are also supporting him whole-heartedly. “Rohit Shetty and Tabu are in touch with me. Farah Khan calls me everyday to check if I need any help. She also volunteered to offer drinking water to these migrants,” says Sonu, who often ends up working 22 hours a day, to get everything organised.
“I am also looking at sending migrants home to Telangana, but the state is not accepting people from Maharashtra as of now. So, I will wait. I intend to work till the last migrant reaches his hometown,” he signs off.