When a special train carrying more than 1,000 workers from Hyderabad pulled into Habibganj railway station in Madhya Pradesh around 8.10 pm on Wednesday, Ankit Jatav was among the few who looked confident.
While most other passengers were unsure if they would be called back by their employers, the 20-year-old was certain that he would return after the lockdown.
A resident of a village in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh, the young man cuts marbles and earns Rs 15,000 per month. With his food and accommodation needs taken care of by the employer, the young man was happy with the job he found five months ago.
The train carrying him and others was the first passenger train to reach Habibganj, one of the two main stations in Bhopal, after weeks. Habibganj is the first station in the country which is being redeveloped in partnership with a private company.
The first such train to Madhya Pradesh, carrying more than 300 passengers from Nashik, arrived at Misrod, a small suburban station, last week.
On Wednesday, the train reached late by more than three hours. Food packets had been kept ready and buses meant to take workers to their destinations were waiting in the parking lot. Soon, health personnel in PPE kits joined them.
But despite the rehearsals and repeated instructions, there was chaos when the train arrived. Unsure of if and when to get out of the train, the workers moved around confusedly before being told to wait in their respective compartments.
Not everyone got food packets and some hoarded water bottles as they were bundled into buses.
While the first exercise to bring workers home by train was mired in controversy because they were charged for tickets there was no such issue this time around because the railways and the state government was to bear the cost.