After 13 days of residing at a Mohali stadium in wait of train tickets confirmation and communication from authorities, as hope to catch a UP-bound train withered for Lal Dhar and 11 other construction labourers, they started their 1,100 km foot march to their native town, Gorakhpur, on Monday.
“A mini-truck driver was asking us to pay Rs 1.25 lakh, which is too expensive, and so we decided to walk to Gorakhpur,” said Lal Dhar, who had been working as a construction labourer in Punjab and Chandigarh for the past 12 years.
“We had been earning Rs 10,000-12,000 per month, but from the past two months we have not received any wage as there is no work here. The contractor told us that it will take time to resume work at the construction sites and we are left with no money to sustain ourselves. I was sent some money by my wife, but I cannot ask for more from her,” he added.
Headed to his native town Gorakhpur, Dhar is accompanied by his younger brother Rahul.
“We applied for train reservations on May 4, and then waited for confirmation or any communication. We also went to the nearby police station after a few days and asked the personnel about the UP-bound trains, where we were told to stay at a stadium in Sohana, Mohali. After putting up there for several days, Monday we went to confirm our train’s status, but we learnt that the tickets of a man who had applied on May 13 was confirmed, while we were asked to stay put for another week,” said Rahul.
He added, “When we objected and asked for our confirmation, the policemen charged at us with sticks. It made us give up the hope of catching a train to reach our town, thus, we decided to walk to Gorakhpur.”
Sannu Chauhan, 55, another labourer headed to UP, said, “We could have stayed at Sohana and waited for some more time for the train, but there is no arrangement to stay. Many of us sleep on the ground and the food is only provided by the gurdwara nearby.”
Recounting about his resolve to make his journey to his native town, Chauhan said, “As we started walking from Sohana around 11.30 am on Monday, we got some food packed from the gurdwara, and on the way, two sikh brothers also gave us packets of biscuits and water bottles,” said Chauhan.
Carrying bags on their heads, the group of 12 had completed 20 kilometres in five hours till 4.30 pm, when they reached Derabassi. “At Gorakhpur, we have our home and some farming land, where we will try to at least get some grain to sustain ourselves,” added Chauhan.
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