Stepping on platform No. 4 at Dankuni Junction railway station in Hooghly district on Tuesday, 51-year-old Mohammad Rakim Khan breathed a sigh of relief. He is one of the 1,186 people who on Monday had boarded the Shramik Special Train from Rajasthan’s Ajmer to reach Bengal.
“I went on a pilgrimage to Ajmer in March but got stuck there after the announcement of the lockdown. Till now we were living in uncertainty. Today, it feels so good to come back home,” said Khan while adjusting his skull cap.
At 11.43 am on Tuesday, the 24-coach Shramik Special Train carrying 1,186 pilgrims and migrant labourers from Bengal reached Dankuni Junction. This is the first train to bring back people who had got stranded in other states following the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.
CM Mamata Banerjee Sunday had announced that a special train from Ajmer was arranged to bring back migrant labourers from Rajasthan. Another train, which will bring back migrant workers from Kerala, is scheduled to reach Berhampore in Murshidabad district on Wednesday.
A large number of people were pilgrims who had gone to visit the Ajmer Sharif Dargah.
“We were staying at Delhi Gate near Ajmer Sharif. Few days ago, there was an announcement from the Dargah that a train has been arranged for people from Bengal. The local administration got in touch with us and asked us to fill up application forms,” said Kolkata-based Khurshid Alam, who had gone to Ajmer on a pilgrimage with his wife and son.
According to the returnees, once the forms were filled and applications were made, the local DM office got in touch with them. Cards were issued to each applicant after a medical check-up.
“After issuing cards, the officials asked us to go to Ajmer station on Monday morning to embark on our return journey. Another round of medical check-up was done, following which railway tickets were issued to us free of cost,” said Farooq Ahmed Khan, 37, a migrant labourer from West Midnapore’s Chandrakona area.
After leaving Ajmer at 11.25 am Monday, the train made two brief stops in Kanpur and Dhanbad, where dinner and breakfast were served to the passengers.
“At Kanpur station, we were given veg biryani and a water bottle for dinner. At Dhanbad this morning, we were provided with a packet of buiscuit, chips and a bottle of water,” said migrant labourer Muzammil Haque, who hails from Harishchandrapur in Malda district.
After their arrival, the passengers were provided with food packets and a bottle of water at Dankuni Junction.
A large number of policemen, RPF and GRP were deployed at the railway station to maintain smooth exit of passengers.
After exiting the platform, all passengers had to undergo medical check-up at a camp, set up by the Health Department, outside the station.
The returnees will be transported to their respective districts in government buses where the district administration would take a call on the next course of action, officials said.
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