There were signs of happiness and relief behind their ‘masked expressions’ as they disembarked from a special train at Danapur railway station on Friday. The train from Jaipur ferried 1,174 migrant workers and their family members who were stuck in Rajasthan as the nation-wide lockdown came into effect on March 23. Some of them did not even wait for their salaries to board the first special train from Jaipur to Patna.
Most of the migrant workers, who were wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, had come from Nagaur district of Rajasthan where they worked in road construction, cement and salt factories. Some of them had bought train tickets, while for others, their employers arranged tickets. These migrants are from North Bihar districts of Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Madhepura, West Champaran, Saharsa and Supaul.
The state government has arranged buses (district-wise) to take them to their respective block headquarters, where they would be quarantined for 21 days.
Rohit Kumar, 28, from West Champaran, who worked at a salt factory in Nagaur, said: “We are thankful to our employer for providing us ration during lockdown. I am relieved to return to my people and not thinking about what would happen next.” He, however, said there had been no logic in keeping them at quarantine centres as “we have already gone through screening.”
Ramchandra Sahni,38, and Ramesh Sahni, 42, from Vaishali, who worked at a cement factory in Rajasthan, said thousands of people from Bihar stuck in Rajasthan due to Covid-19 were provided ration by village panchayats and employers. Ramesh said they had tried to register for Bihar government benefit of Rs 1,000 but failed to do so. Ramesh said it was eventually the Central government that ensured their return and the Bihar government did little except asking the Centre to provide trains.
Suraj Sahni from Samastipur, who worked as a barber in Nagaur, said he had been earning about Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 per month. “I am not sure if I would be able to return. I will find out if I can open a saloon in Samastipur. Even if I earn less, it would do”.
There are, however, others who said the Bihar government had few jobs to offer and they would return once things became normal. “I earn Rs 15,000 in a cement factory in Rajasthan, I would surely return”, said 35-year-old Rakesh Kumar from Araria.
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