It is a double whammy for hundreds of distressed migrants who have been forced to return to their native places with no salary or savings, following demonetisation. As now, they have to face the brutality of harsh winter chill while spending nights on platforms and rail over bridge at the city railway station, waiting for their trains which are running late due to persistent foggy weather.
It was difficult for the passengers to buy even one meal at the railway station since they were having a meagre amount in their pockets.
When the HT team visited Ludhiana railway station on Thursday night, the passengers, mostly labourers, working in different factories of the city, were seen lying on the floor with a blanket spread underneath and a quilt wrapping around to get some respite from the biting cold while waiting for the arrival of their respective trains.
When interacted with a few passengers, they claimed that it is indeed a tough time for them as they are going back to their villages with no salary because their employers had no cash to pay them.
“My factory owner has given me meagre amount for the tickets. He has not paid me salary yet as he said that either I should accept old currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination or should wait for another month,” said Umesh Kumar, 26, working in a cycle parts manufacturing factory.
Kumar was waiting for Amritsar-Howrah Mail (13006) which was scheduled to arrive at 9.05pm on Thursday but was delayed by 9.33 hours and arrived on Friday morning at 6.38 am.
“I am going to Buxar, Bihar and have only Rs 50- 100 in my pocket. It’s cold here and I have to stay here all the night. Having tea is my necessity but I can survive without a one-time meal,” Kumar expressed.
Another migrant, 20-year-old Jagdish Roy was waiting for Karmabhoomi Superfast (12407), running 9.55 hours behind schedule. Roy was going on holidays to his village Kulpi in West Bengal to celebrate the festival of ‘Raas’. Roy articulated, “My boss has not given me monthly pay yet but he has promised me that he will deposit it in my account and I can withdraw it back home. But if he does not, it will be difficult for me to shop for the festival.” “However, I have some money left with me from the amount withdrawn two days ago from the ATM and I can manage my travel expenses with it,” he said.
“I was working in a hosiery firm on the contract basis and now my contract is over. The owner has paid me half the amount of remuneration in an old currency of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination, rest he has paid me through cheque. But due to long queues outside banks and cashless ATMs, it is difficult to withdraw our own hard earned money. However, I have some saving and some petty cash given by my owner to incur the basic expenses,” said Vijay Kumar, travelling to Revari, Lucknow.