As many as 35,000 people were ferried out of the national capital on Shramik special trains, deployed to carry stranded migrant workers back to their native places, and buses till Saturday, Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said on Sunday. On Sunday, eight of these special trains will carry 12,000 more people out of Delhi, Sisodia said, following an inspection of a few migrant shelters where authorities are carrying out medical screening before putting them on the trains.
“Most of these people had come to Delhi looking for work two to six months ago. They had even got jobs but the lockdown has left them without much hope. I asked them when will you return – they said when the economy reopens,” Sisodia tweeted.
Anxious about the fallout of the flight of migrants on such a large scale, which may cripple the economy already battered by the pandemic-induced lockdown, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had last week appealed to workers to stay back, assuring them of income once commercial activities resume.The Delhi government has also been batting for reopening of the city, barring containment zones. Kejriwal has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi informing him that medical arrangements are in place to tackle any spike in cases due to relaxations in lockdown.
Kejriwal added in a tweet: “The migrant workers living in Delhi are our responsibility. If they want to stay in Delhi, we will take full care of them and if they want to return to their villages, we are arranging trains for them. We will not leave them in the lurch.”
AAP national spokesperson Raghav Chadha, meanwhile, said that BJP had “failed the poor as India is witnessing a huge exodus of migrant labourers across the country”. Comparing the exodus to that during the Partition, Chadha said: “After 1947 maybe this is the first time when India is witnessing such a huge exodus of the poor migrant labourers. Lakhs of migrant labourers are leaving big cities and travelling thousands of kilometres to reach their home states. The recent situation has devastated their lives, ruined their livelihood and they are left with nothing.”
Chadha said that the situation was the same across the country and that BJP was responsible for workers facing atrocities and violation of rights.
Referring to instances of migrants workers being forced to walk hundreds of kilometres, carrying their children on their shoulders, Chadha said he wanted to ask the Centre if their lives had no value. “Today the BJP government has sent luxury flights to bring back the rich people who were stuck abroad… It is good that they have done such things but it is unfortunate that the BJP has done nothing for these poor migrant labourers. These poor migrant labourers are the real makers of India… The kind of atrocities they are facing along with the negligence from the BJP government is unacceptable,” he said.
To be considered for boarding Shramik special trains, migrant workers need to fill up a registration form, entering details including their name, address, government ID number, destination state, district and nearest railway stations among others.
Considering not all workers can be expected to access the online forms, the District Magistrates and Delhi Police personnel have also been tasked with creating a database of such people in their respective jurisdiction. On Saturday, one such offline registration drive was launched at Shahpur Jat, where thousands of migrant workers from West Bengal are stuck.
South District officials said two Shramik trains, with a combined capacity to carry 2,400 people, will leave for West Bengal Tuesday. So far, around 1,000 workers, including 600 from the project site of a construction major, have signed up to return.
Under the MHA guidelines, only those found asymptomatic are allowed to board these trains. For migrants from neighbouring states such as Punjab, buses have been arranged.
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