Along the Barabanki highway outside Lucknow—the capital of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh—a spring morning finds two men asleep under a tree, limbs askew. One of them lies on a worn-out black throw with colorful stripes; the other sleeps on a discarded white gunny sack, near bicycles with duffel bags attached. Another three men sleep a short distance away in similar makeshift arrangements. Their clothes and hair are gritty, the dirt and sweat from their journey coating their skin.
On April 15, a day after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country’s coronavirus lockdown would be extended until May 3, the five of them had left Jaipur on bicycles to try to reach Gopalganj in Bihar, around