At 2.30 pm on May 11, Vijendera (27) got an SMS alert to reach Nirankari Bhawan (screening centre) as soon as possible for his onward journey to Madhya Pradesh (MP). Taking his wife Basmati (25) and three daughters — Nandini (5), Muskan (2) and Sanjna (7 months) – along, the 27-year-old walked 10 km to reach the spot at 5 pm. As he waited for his medical to be done, he was asked to trace his steps back to his rented accommodation at 8 pm. The train, he was told, had already left. The journey back home amid heavy showers was followed by multiple trips to screening centre over the next three days to board the train home, but without success.
As he finally embarked on a bicycle journey to home, Vijendera pointed out what went wrong. “When a person has got a message for (Shramik) train journey, then why is he not being sent? Beimaani chal raha hai, par koi check nahin kar raha hai itne jayada rush mein… A few among us (migrants) are getting original messages ‘forwarded’ to their mobile phones and they using them as ‘original messages’ for undertaking the train journey. After showing these to the police, they enter screening centres and from there they are sent to the station after medical.”
A senior police officer, who did not wish to be named, admitted that he had received information about large number of migrants using forwarded messages to board trains and those with original messages being left stranded. He added that now clear instructions have been passed to cops guarding the entry gates of medical screening centres to check every message carefully.
Nodal Officer, Special Shramik Trains, and Additional Commissioner Corporation, Babita Kler said that they have been sending messages only to those who are listed to be sent in trains. “But still a large number of people are coming as everyone wants to go home,” she said, adding that she will get it checked if people were using forwarded messages to board trains, and original recipients were being short-changed.
Kler also appealed to all migrants to be patient and wait for their turn, rather than snatching the right of their fellow migrants.
But Vijendera’s patience, however, ran out after four days of waiting. On Friday, he left on bicycle with his family for his village Harraiya in Singrauli (Madhya Pradesh), over 1200 km away.
“I have no idea how we will reach home, but we do not have money to stay back. I cannot even afford to purchase a packet of milk for my seven-month-old daughter now,” said Basmati, Vijendera’s wife.
After leaving their place in Jalandhar for Singrauli at 11 am along with 22 other migrants, the group had covered 30 km by the evening mostly walking while dragging their bicycles along.
Mukesh and Brijesh, two migrants part of the group of 22, said they too had received a similar message for train ride, but were not allowed to board.
As migrants in the group spoke about their ordeal, Vijendera pulled out his mobile phone to show his original message for train journey.
It read: “Priye Parvasi, 11 May ko Madhya Pradesh jaane wali gadhi ki ticket ke liye jalad se jalad sant nirankari bhawan (leather complex ke pass), Kapurthala Road, Jalandhar mein pahunche. Darj kiye huye sathiyon, kam saaman aur mask sahit aaiye. Dhanyavad.”
But in the end, the train and Vijendera were destined for separate journeys to the same state.
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