Farmers in Punjab bar India’s ruling party from entering villages ahead of polls

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Indonesia sees record holiday exodus as more than 190 million travel home for Eid

Jakarta: The Eid Al-Fitr exodus is an annual affair for Indonesians, but this year the number of commuters is breaking past records, police said on Saturday, as some 193 million people leave the country’s cities to celebrate the Islamic holiday with families.

Locally known as “mudik,” the mass homecoming in the Muslim-majority nation of 270 million is one of the world’s greatest movements of people, with travelers braving enormous jams, thousands of kilometers and exhaustion to make it home for the holiday that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

More than 123 million people took part in the annual exodus in 2023 — nearly 40 million more than in 2022. This year, the numbers are much higher, according to transportation ministry estimates.

“Survey results show 71.7 percent of the Indonesian population are planning to celebrate Eid Al-Fitr by going for mudik to their hometowns, which translates to around 193.6 million,” National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Trunoyudo Wisnu Andiko told Arab News.

“It’s certainly the highest compared to previous years.”

Jakarta, notorious for traffic jams, was deserted as the weekend began, with businesses shut down and members of wealthy families dependent on domestic help checking in to the capital’s hotels as their maids and drivers are away.

As most people are traveling to their villages by cars, motorcycles, trains and buses, more than 155,000 security personnel have been deployed to oversee their safety.

The traffic was expected to peak over the weekend.

Vehicles are stuck in a traffic jam in Mekarjaya, West Java, April 5, 2024, as Indonesians return to their villages ahead of Eid Al-Fitr. (ANTARA)

“We deployed 155,165 joint personnel from the Indonesian military, National Police, ministries and relevant institutions, as well as other stakeholders,” Andiko said.

“We have given travelers several options, including a government program that provides discounts for people traveling on April 3, 4, and 5 — an option for them to travel early in order to reduce congestion so that it doesn’t get clogged on the peak traffic days.”

Authorities have also prepared military helicopters to help evacuate the wounded in case of traffic incidents.

“For incidents that may require speedy action, the head of the National Police has given his instructions to keep two units of helicopters ready if evacuation is required along the Trans-Java route,” Andiko said, referring to the 1,167-km expressway network that runs along Indonesia’s most populous island of Java.

Each year hundreds of people die on the road during the Eid exodus. Nearly 6,000 accidents were recorded last year, claiming the lives of at least 726 people.

Heightened security measures along Indonesia’s main roads will be in place until the end of the long holiday on April 16.

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