Standing for hours in the heat, hundreds of migrant labourers and their families from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been lining up at schools in East Delhi since May 12 to be screened before they can board Shramik special trains. On Wednesday, the queue spilled onto the main road near Mayur Vihar, with several seen sitting or standing on the sidewalk.
Screening, arranged by the East Delhi district administration, is underway at Rajkiya Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya (RSBV) schools in East and West Vinod Nagar and in Jheel Khureji. The migrants, many of whom registered at the local police stations or online for trains, received SMSes instructing them to arrive at the schools. After getting clearance, they are given signed certificates. If trains are available, they are sent by DTC buses to Old Delhi or Anand Vihar railway stations, from where they board the designated trains.
District Magistrate (East) Arun Kumar Mishra told The Indian Express, “As per the requirement and the location of the trains, five-seven schools are being used for screening purposes — the number of schools varies. The migrants are mostly bound for Bihar, Uttar Pradesh. We have screened more than 5,000 people.”
Most migrants had received SMSes directing them to arrive at school by 8-9 am for screening. Arriving largely on foot from various parts of Delhi, they complained of long queues. Many had to wait another day for their chance to board trains back to their districts even after being screened.
Among them was Veer Bahadur Roy (52) from Bihar’s Vaishali district, who earns Rs 300-400 per day working as labourer. He received a message at 3 am on Sunday, left his room in Vinod Nagar at 5 am, and arrived at the school an hour later — to find a long queue. He could not get screened.
On Monday morning, too, he did not get a chance: “The lines were very long even though we arrived at 6 am.”
Many complained that they received the messages very late. Vivek Mishra (20), who works at a restaurant in Karol Bagh and wished to go to UP’s Gonda district, said, “I got a message at 7 am Monday, saying the test is at 8 am. I walked and it took me a few hours to reach… I missed the test.”
Eventually, he was taken to Anand Vihar station where he boarded a train to Lucknow at 10 pm Tuesday. “I waited for days in the sun and in hunger. No trains were going to Gonda, so I took the one going to Lucknow. From Lucknow, a bus took us to Gonda and I reached home Wednesday afternoon,” he said.
Mantu Kumar Yadav (21), who works at a toy factory at Inderlok and earns Rs 8,000 a month, said, “I am the only breadwinner in my family of small farmers, who live in Palamu in Jharkhand. It was very difficult for them to send me Rs 5,000. Now there is no money at home.”
He had hailed a cab for Rs 600 from Inderlok on Monday morning and was unable to get screened: “They should have thought about labourers like us before the lockdown. What will happen to those without money? How will they survive?”
Rajeev Kumar Tyagi, the Mayur Vihar SDM, told The Indian Express, “We are screening migrants heading to Bihar and UP, and are sending them by buses afterwards. Since there are many people, the process is taking some time. We get the train time tables from the Railway Ministry.”
On Wednesday, 25 trains carrying 37,500 migrants left Delhi. Of these, 11 each were sent to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia has written to the Ministry of Railways requesting 262 trains over the next four days. “Around 65,000 people have been sent back to their homes until now. We are also seeking permission from other states to send migrants back to their hometowns. As soon as we get the permit, we are sanctioning trains for those states,” said Sisodia.
Over 4 lakh migrant workers have registered to go back home on the government’s portal so far. According to the government, this includes 14,836 people registering for Darbhanga, 14,355 for Madhubani in Bihar and 14,914 for Azamgarh and 13,279 for Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.
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