Sustaining on little or no information, migrant labourers continued to reach New Delhi Railway Station without tickets on Friday, hoping for a way to return to their home states.
Vicky Gupta (20) and Sanjay Kumar Yadav (19) left Badarpur border at 4 am on foot and headed towards the station to return to their village in UP’s Ballia. Apart from their bags, all they had was the link to a news report which stated that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Thursday that starting from Friday, four trains will carry migrants free of cost from Delhi to UP every day. They reached the station at 1 pm to find that no such trains were leaving the station that day.
“We only came because we heard that there will be free trains for people like us. We didn’t know who to ask when we got here so we asked a policeman, who told us that only those who paid for tickets and made online bookings could enter. We have no idea which trains these are, when they will leave and how we can get seats,” said Vicky.
On Friday, UP government officials told The Indian Express that the dates for these trains have not yet been decided.
They add to a growing group of people who have started living near the station entry — people who arrived after hearing that “trains are leaving Delhi”.
Pari, a transwoman, and her two friends Pakhi and Shami, have been staying on the roadside for three nights now. She worked as a dancer in Bihar and was visiting a friend in Laxmi Nagar when the lockdown started. Since then, she has exhausted the money she had brought with her. “People just told me that trains are leaving and that I can get on one and go, but I reached and found there are only expensive trains. I heard there are still some free trains for poor people but I have no idea about how to get a seat on one. Staying on the street is scary, I feel unsafe,” she said.
On Friday afternoon, The Indian Express counted at least 30 people who have been staying outside the station over the past few days with no information about how they can go about finding a place on a Shramik train. Many people are leaving every day after finding that they cannot board one. There is no point of enquiry or help desk for them — no government representatives, only police to regulate flow of people.
“Every day, there are lots of distressed people coming. Many of them go back after finding it is futile, some have stayed. I keep telling them it is not up to me, I am only allowed to let in people with tickets. I ask them to go to the SDM office in Jhandewalan or the DCP office in Darya Ganj,” said a police constable at the station.
So far, 22 Shramik trains have left Delhi. Registration for a place on such trains is through a link on the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board website, which is sometimes down. According to government officials, around 65,000 people have registered so far.
“People can register through the website. Otherwise, it can be done at the DM’s office as well. However, our focus for now is to get those living in shelter homes across the city back to their home states first,” said a government spokesperson.
The spokesperson said 30,000 migrants from different states have left the capital as of Friday: “These are majorly homeless migrants staying at shelters. Migrants who may be living in rented accommodations, and had submitted applications on our dedicated web portal, have also been sent on these trains.”
Several buses have also been arranged by the home states of migrants including 13 buses to Punjab, 5 to Ladakh, and three each to Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, the spokesperson said.
The government has also received close to 28,500 applications from migrants living in rented accommodations. The applications would concern an estimated 82,000 individual migrants as many are combined applications having two to three names each, made by families, the spokesperson added.
(With Shivam Patel)
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