Migrants again turned away from screening centre, govt to increase centres and trains
Hundreds of migrants on Thursday complained that they were turned back from the screening centre in Lajpat Nagar despite receiving confirmation messages for their reservation.Updated: May 22, 2020 04:47 IST
Raghu Nandan Pandit, a daily wage labourer, was among hundreds of migrant workers who were turned back by officials from a screening centre in Lajpat Nagar on Wednesday despite receiving a text message confirming his reservation for a Bihar-bound Shramik Special Train.
“I vacated my room in Seelampur last night after receiving the confirmation message for the train. Only I know how I have spent the last two months. My landlord would give me one bucket of water for a day for washing, cleaning, cooking and everything else. Where do I go now?” he said.
Hundreds of migrants on Thursday complained that they were turned back from the screening centre in Lajpat Nagar despite receiving confirmation messages for their reservation. HT had on Thursday reported a similar incident from two screening centres in east Delhi.
As a solution to the problem, the Delhi government has now decided to increase the number of screening centres in the city. A government spokesperson said, “It’s come to our notice that a large number of people are turning up to the screening centres even without receiving messages. We have now decided to increase the number of these centres and also the number of trains in the next few days. It will help us screen more migrant workers per day.”
Presently, there are 30 screening centres across the city.
On being asked why the messages were sent to more migrants than the number of available seats, the official said, “We have not sent extra messages. They may have brought more people with them on the basis of one message.”
However, stranded migrants outside the centre showed messages of reservation for trains to Patna, Bhagalpur, and Muzaffarpur that they had received the previous night. “Your journey has been scheduled for May 21. The train will stop at BKM and buses will be provided for other districts near these stations. Food and other arrangements have been made. You are requested to come for screening on May 21 at 8am with your family and luggage,” read one of these messages.
Amarjeet Kagadia, 19, who used to work in a factory in Bawana, said that he had also vacated his room the previous night after receiving the message and left for the screening centre around 3am on Thursday. “I was left with ₹1,500, of which I paid ₹350 to the auto driver to take me to the centre. Now, the police are telling me to go back. Where do I go? I have never felt so helpless. Whey did they ask us to come here today if we were not supposed to go home?” he said.
Around 4pm, a group of angry migrants was seen holding a meeting. Addressing them all, Raheem, who used to work at a bag printing unit in Nabi Karim, said, “We should find work in Bihar. We should demand our political leaders there to restart all mills so that we can get employment opportunities there. No one should have to come to work in Delhi.”
The migrants decided not to leave and continue to stay outside the centre. “Why should we leave and where should we go? I’ve three daughters with me. How can I take them here and there? We don’t even have money to commute now,” Bhawari Devi, who was used to work in a toy factory in Bawana, said.
When contacted, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said that he was aware of the situation. “We are putting them up in various schools and will send them home by train on Friday,” he said.
Around 7.30pm, the officials at the centre asked the stranded migrants to stay put; however, they were not allowed inside the school. “We have been asked to wait here and not leave. We just don’t have any choice now. It’s been a very tiring day. I can’t walk now,” Ranjeet, who wants to home to Bhagalpur to take care of his wife who is in her last trimester of pregnancy, said.
Despite several attempts, south-east district magistrate Harleen Kaur did not respond to calls and messages sent by HT.