Ludhiana saw protests by migrant workers eager to return to their native states for the second day in a row Wednesday. Hundreds gathered outside the DC office complex alleging that trains were being run at less frequency and tickets were being allegedly sold off to other people. Ludhiana district chief of the BSP Pargan Bilga was part of the protest. A similar protest by labourers had taken place on city’s Kakowal road on Tuesday.
So far, around 15.6 lakh migrants have registered over a Punjab government portal since May 1 to return to their native states. Among them, only 12.4 lakh requested government transport. Around 1.22 lakh of them have been sent back on 104 trains from Punjab till now. But there are still over 11 lakh who have registered with a request to be provided government transport to go back, who are increasingly getting restless in the state. The situation is grave for Ludhiana as it has over 8 lakh migrants who have registered with the state government to go back. Pargan Bilga, Ludhiana BSP chief, said, “On Tuesday night, 35 persons of Sitamarhi were called from their houses, taken in bus to railway station but after that their tickets were given to someone else after taking money. They were sent back…More trains should be started, even if they are paid. But either migrants should be sent back, or given means to survive here.”
Even during Tuesday’ protest allegations were made about cops allegedly demanding bribe and tickets being sold to others.
DC Ludhiana Pardeep Agarwal said, “They are over 8 lakh and everyone can only be sent as per the number of trains running on each day. We have taken up the matter with the government and railways to start more trains.”
Meanwhile, Vinod Kumar, a daily wager in his 30s who had tried going to Gorakhpur on a bicycle in late April but was sent back from Ambala, joined back work after spending 14 days in quarantine. But despite that he wants to go back via a train. “I could not go by bicycle, but I will try my best to go via train. I am working but I wait for train message on daily. UP’s CM has announced that he will absorb many of us within his state by re-opening old factories. So, we have a ray of hope,” he said.
Sobodh Kumar from Katihar district of Bihar has also rejoined his workplace in Ludhiana. He said: “These days, I am being called for work for three days in a week. Hence, my earnings have reduced to 50 per cent. The same amount, I can earn even in Bihar as well. Pardes mein aakar agar paisa nahi bachega to kya faida ? Har mahine ghar paisa bhejna hota hai (If one cannot save money in a different state, what is the purpose of working there? I have to send money back home).”
He added, “Bihar mein aapda relief fund Rs 1000 per person bhi milega. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is giving double ration to all, while here it is pick and choose policy. Gaon mein apna ghar hai. Yahan kamre ka kiraya dena padta hai.”
Mohammad Alam, who lives in Dhandari Kalan, said, “I am not going, but many of my friends want to go. In UP, Yogi is promising jobs. In Bihar, CM is giving Rs 1000 relief to every person, ration under PDS. Many are getting relief under Jan Dhan and even Krishi Kalyan Yozna as well. So they can manage for 2-3 months in their home towns.”
Kiran, a domestic help, has no place to live as of now even as she awaits her turn to board a train. “I am getting an SMS for boarding the train, but we are not being sent for past 3 days. We did not pay our room rent, so we are sleeping on roadside these days,” said Kiran.
Authorities, however, claim that many follow their fellow workers to the station due to misinformation that their turn has come, adding that only those with valid message should show up.
Ludhiana DC added: “No money is being charged from anyone. It is free of cost..if anyone is asking for money, people should complain to the authorities.”
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