It has been 13 days since the family of Darshan Chaudhary (68), a migrant from Paschim Ratanpur village of Malda district in West Bengal, registered for seats on a Shramik Train.
With Darshan bedridden ever since a bike ran into him three months ago, shattering his ankle and calf bones, they have wheeled him to Jalandhar railway station, 40 km away — once on an old bicycle and the second time on a dilapidated rickshaw — twice, covering 160 km (to and fro). They had hoped to stay at a bus stand near the station and went there, only to be chased away.
Since they live far away from the railway station in a makeshift hut on Lohian-Tashpur road, on the border of Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts, they fear they will not get enough time to reach the station if they get a confirmatory SMS, as they have no other option but to walk.
Darshan has been coming to the Doaba region, which is the seed potato hub of the country, for potato harvesting for decades. After his accident, his family came here to look after him and started working in the potato fields.
They were supposed to return home on March 24, but the government announced the lockdown the same day.
“We have walked to Jalandhar railway station twice from here along with my father, who has pulled on a cycle as well as a rickshaw as he is totally bedridden and cannot sit on his own. But we were chased away from the railway station,” said Badri, 40, Darshan’s son.
“We urge the government to give some preference to the old and handicapped in ‘Special Shramik trains’. We have one killa land at our village and we will work there to earn a living instead of returning here for work,” he added.
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