Migrants protest lack of food, water
Migrant workers travelling on Shramik special trains allegedly damaged railway property at separate places in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday while protesting against scarcity of food, water and unscheduled stoppage during their travel, officials said.
Unnao district magistrate Ravindra Kumar said the migrants complained that a Bengaluru-Darbhanga (Bihar) train, which had left for its destination four days back, was running much behind the schedule and even toilets had no water.
Officials said the passengers threw stones, damaged furniture and the station master’s room at the Unnao railway station when the train halted there for over an hour. They said the railway protection force and government railway police personnel pacified the passengers before the train started its onward journey.
Officials said the workers allegedly damaged benches and threw stones on the railway property at Ajgain and Sonik railway stations when the train stopped there. The workers were again pacified and assured of all possible help.
Residents ran away from their houses when around 1,000 workers entered a residential area looking for water after another special train headed to Chapra in Bihar from Dadri (Mumbai) arrived at the Kanchausi railway station in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya.
Stationmaster Vishambhar Dayal Pandey said the train was stopped for two hours to let superfast trains pass first. The local police had a tough time in getting the workers out of the residential area.
Migrants also protested over Vishakhapatnam-Muzaffarpur Shramik train’s unscheduled five-hour stoppage at Uttar Pradesh’s Pt Deendayal Upadhyay Junction (Mughalsarai), a railway police officer said. Senior officials rushed to the spot and pacified the migrants. Passengers of a Deoghar-bound train from Ahmedabad also joined the protest. Government railway police inspector RK Singh said the migrants were angry as the train was halted.
The Vasai Road-Gorakhpur Shramik train to Uttar Pradesh, which left Mumbai on Thursday, was diverted to a different route via Odisha due to heavy traffic congestion.
Indian Railways on Saturday said it will ferry another 3.6 million migrant labourers stranded across the country because of the Covid-19 lockdown on 2,600 Shramik trains over the next 10 days and will continue running such trains till all of them reach their homes.
Railway officials said that till Saturday as many as 4.5 million have been ferried on the special trains since their launch on May 1. The trains were launched as migrant workers left jobless because of the lockdown imposed in late March to check the Covid-19 spread were forced to walk or cycle back to their homes. Many of them have continued to do so despite these trains and buses that were arranged for them in late April. In some cases, migrant workers have been unable to travel on these trains for the want of identity documents.
Officials said about 80% of the Shramik trains so far have transported migrant workers to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, India’s two most populous states where the bulk of the workforce comes from.
As per the 2011 Census, around 40 million workers migrate for work within the country annually.