UP migrants board train home for ‘3 regular meals’
For 1,288 migrants, it was a route to freedom from hunger and helplessness, on Thursday, as the first special train ferrying migrant workers of Uttar Pradesh chugged off from Mohali railway station.
The workers who left for home in Hardoi, UP, were relieved their torment in the city had ended. They said they were living in wretched conditions, with no food, little water and empty pockets, as their employers had stopped paying them salaries. Saying they were unlikely to return soon, as they would at least get “three daily meals at home”.
The 24-coach non-stop train ferrying these 1288 migrants home left Mohali railway station at 10 am and will have no intermittent stoppage before Hardoi.
There are around 6,000 migrant workers from Hardoi, who are working in Mohali.
On of the migrants Mohammad Tayyab, 32, said that over one month, they struggled to get three meals a day. “Our employer did not give us any money, so we had to borrow which has left us in debt.” When asked about what work would they do when they get back home, he said he didn’t know but would atleast eat three times a day. About returning, he said, “It will take at least three months for me return back.”
Another migrant worker said they were ‘living in hell’ for the past 40 days. “we were finding it really difficult to make both ends meet. We thought that if we didn’t die of the virus, we would surely die of hunger. Our employer gave us no money so we borrowed from here and there,” said Naresh Kumar, 30.
A domestic worker from Hardoi, Seema, 32, said, “At least we have house in UP. For two months we sat idle without work. Whatever we ate came from NGO’s and other organisations. Now, I don’t feel like coming back.”
Mohali deputy commissioner Girish Dayalan, who was also present at the railway station, said that the workers had been thoroughly screened at the designated collection centres before they boarded the train. However, only 65% of those who had registered on the government portal turned up for departure.
“It is a good omen,” said the DC, adding, “People deciding to stay on is an indication that we are tip-toeing towards normalcy. Permission to resume labour intensive construction work and industrial operations has provided an opportunity to earn money and will check mass exodus.”
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