‘Lockdown taught us harsh lessons of life’, say migrants arriving in Haridwar
Three Shramik Special trains from Bengaluru, Pune, and Surat ferried over 3,000 stranded passengers from Uttarakhand’s Garhwal and Kumaon division to Haridwar, which has emerged as the base station in the hill state, amid the easing of lockdown restrictions that were imposed since March 25 to contain the spread of raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, since Wednesday.
The returnees are being sent to their respective destinations from Haridwar by state-run buses.
On Thursday, 1,076 passengers returned to Haridwar from Bengaluru Shramik special train, while on Wednesday 1,173 and 1,206 had arrived from Surat and Pune, respectively.
Pooja Pant, a Pune-based student, said that lockdown has taught harsh lessons that “life isn’t the same and our home state is much safer in comparison to other places”.
Vikas Negi from Rudraprayag district, who worked at an eatery in Gurugram, Haryana, he has had sleepless nights for the past six weeks, as he was worried about how to return home due to the lockdown restrictions.
“We’re dependent on relief camp food for all these weeks. I still feel the dread how we spent the initial few days after the lockdown restrictions were announced,” said Negi before boarding a state-government bus that would take to his native place in Rudraprayag district from the railway station premises.
Similarly Pankaj Singh from Kumaon, who worked in a Pune-based hotel said that he ran out of money after his company said that they couldn’t pay him his salary because of the losses incurred due to the lockdown restrictions.
The returnees praised the state government’s initiative to bring them back home, as they had given up hope that train services would resume before another month.
Jhabreda legislator Desh Raj Karnwal, who welcomed passengers from Pune, said it was a joyous occasion as the migrants have returned home despite facing hardships due to lockdown restrictions.
Chief medical officer, Haridwar, Dr. Saroj Naithani, urged the returnees to adhere to the health department’s guidelines.
“All 13 district authorities have been urged to keep a close tab on the migrants who have returned home,” she said.
Many of the returnees are planning to stay on in the hill state, and don’t want to go back.
“We were neglected by our employers when we needed their support the most. The state government must give us jobs to ensure that we stay back in our home state,” said Narendra Negi, from Pauri Garhwal.