Chaos ensued at the Sama Sports Complex in Vadodara on Saturday afternoon as over 1,500 migrants, slated to board two different trains to Uttar Pradesh, gathered at the venue for their designated “medical screening.” The confusion, senior officials in the administration said, happened when a group that was to board a special train to Jaunpur in UP, had arrived to be screened. Around the same time, another group of migrant labourers, who were to board a train to Gorakhpur later on Saturday night, also arrived at the venue to be screened as messages of the camp went viral among migrants in the city.
The group meant to take the train to Jaunpur was carrying cards with a photograph of Gujarat Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi, issued by “Rajendra Trivedi Fan Club” that claims to have made all arrangements to facilitate the workers’ travel to Jaunpur. Premal Modi, a BJP member and convenor of the fan club dedicated to Trivedi, told this newspaper that the train has been arranged for migrants living in Trivedi’s constituency.
Modi said, “We had prepared a list of the migrants living in Rajubhai’s (Rajendra Trivedi) constituency (Raopora) in Wards 15 and 16. These are natives of UP, who wish to travel back but did not know how to complete the formalities and whom to approach to have their names registered. A majority of them were from Jaunpur and around, so we requested authorities through our leaders to have one train arranged for Jaunpur. We had a list of 1,226 passengers. Luckily, the decision came through and the train departed on Saturday evening. During the day, we transported the migrants to the sports complex for their mandatory medical screening and distribution of tickets. We also arranged for their lunch and transport to the station. The migrants paid for their own tickets.”
Modi explained that the sports complex witnessed a crowd when another group of migrants also reached the spot, having received a message about the ongoing screening and ticket distribution. “We did not know that there was another train scheduled to depart on Saturday for Gorakhpur later in the night. So, when these people came in, we could not turn them away. The officials and our volunteers tried to maintain as much social distancing and discipline as possible. All those people who were registered through our organisation for the Jaunpur train were given cards with Rajubhai’s photo for identification. Rajubhai also came to the station at our request to flag off the train.”
While the city Congress in a statement alleged that the BJP was using the opportunity for political gains, District Collector Shalini Agarwal confirmed that the trains had been arranged by the district administration. “The list of migrant passengers is received by local Mamlatdars and we accordingly coordinate with departments, corresponding state authorities and the Railways. These are all Special Shramik trains arranged by the administration. No local organisation has any role in arranging any trains.
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