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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

As trains restart today, hopes rise among migrants stranded in Delhi

Starting Tuesday, the Railways will run 15 pairs (30 return journeys) of AC “special trains”, modelled on the Rajdhani, connecting 15 major cities with New Delhi.

Written by Shivam Patel | New Delhi | Updated: May 12, 2020 2:00:04 pm
As trains begin today, hopes rise among migrants stranded in Delhi Last week, two special trains carried nearly 2,300 migrant workers from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

Chandra Kishore Yadav’s wife is nine months pregnant and may give birth to their third child any day now. “Doctors have told her to come in two-three days,” said the 25-year-old. Over 1,000 km away from his wife and two daughters, who are in Bihar’s Saharsa with his parents, Yadav said he fears he might not make it in time for the delivery.

Last week, two special trains carried nearly 2,300 migrant workers from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. But Yadav found out about it Friday, the day the train left for Muzaffarpur.

A Delhi government spokesperson said the government’s first priority is to send back homeless migrant workers staying in shelter homes. “At present, we are waiting to hear back from the home states for the workers’ movement. In the next phase, we would facilitate movement of migrants who may be living in rented accommodations. For this, they can either register on our dedicated web portal or approach the office of the district magistrate or district nodal officers,” said the spokesperson.

Yadav said he has run through his savings as the stall he set up two months ago, selling drinking water at Rs 2 per glass, has not opened in over a month. But he is afraid that if he steps out of his rented room in Sarai Kale Khan, which he shares with two others, police will drive him back.

Read | Trains starting today to run at full capacity, up to states to decide the arrival protocols

Starting Tuesday, the Railways will run 15 pairs (30 return journeys) of AC “special trains”, modelled on the Rajdhani, connecting 15 major cities with New Delhi.

Mukesh Das (24), a migrant worker from Bihar’s Saharsa, tried booking a ticket on the IRCTC website till late Monday evening but was unable to do so. He also expect fares to be unaffordable.

He and a group of 29 migrants, from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, live in rented accommodations in Sarai Kale Khan and have been waiting to get home. “We did everything, from trying to walk back to submitting copies of our Aadhaar cards to police with a request to try and send us back… no one has told us how to get a ticket for the special migrant trains either,” said Das.

Also Read | Coronavirus lockdown: Trains back on track, states gear up

He said his nephew drowned while swimming in a river on May 2 in his village, and neither he nor his elder brother, who works in Ballabhgarh, were able to go home for the last rites.

“People tell us trucks can take us back home for Rs 1,800 per person. We sometimes go out around midnight and some truck drivers passing by offer us wheat and other ration, but I am scared to travel in the back of a truck because the government might take action against us,” he said.

Anil Kumar (34) from Etawah said the government should either allow him to resume his work of selling clothes at a roadside stall near India Gate, or let him and his family go home. “We have no ration left. We are just stuck, waiting for this period to end,” Kumar said.

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