Desperate to return to their villages, rumours that the railways were going to restart some trains on Tuesday prompted the migrants to gather outside Bandra (West) railway station.
With rumours flying thick and fast about the possibility of trains resuming services on April 14 — the last day of the first lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — many workers from the area gathered outside the railway station. Offered food packets, most had just one refrain, “We want to go home.”
Tannur Hussain (21), who is from Malda in West Bengal and lives in Shastri Nagar, suffered injuries to his hand in the police lathicharge. “I didn’t want to miss the chance to go home. My friends kept saying a meeting would be held with the authorities and we would probably get a chance to go home. So, I came there. I was surprised when the police started beating us. I started running but received blows to my fingers and head.”
“Here, there is a struggle for food daily. My parents are unwell and they keep calling me and crying on the phone. They are worried for me,” he added.
Soham Mondal, another migrant, said, “We thought if we could draw the attention of the authorities to our plight, we may get a chance to go home. So, we all came out. We pushed through all along hoping that on April 14 we will get to go home. A few more weeks here will kill us.”
Meanwhile, local police are checking how rumours of trains restarting operations started. Since morning, reports of the railways starting some services to transport migrants were shown on some television networks and later picked up by social media.
Similar was the case in Mumbra, where migrants mainly from UP, came out to protest shouting “Humko gaon jana hai (We want to go home).”
“Sir, khana khaneko bilkul paisa nahi hai (We don’t have money for food),” said Mohamed Yakub, adding that for the last four days he and his family hasn’t eaten a meal.
Manoj Kumar, a migrant worker from UP, urged the government to make some arrangements so that they could reach home. Abdul Rehman Khan, an app-based cab driver, said, “I stay here with my wife and children but my parents are alone in UP. I am worried how they are managing in this lockdown. I want to go home. I hope that after seeing all this, the government opens inter-state borders for three days and allow us to travel back.”