Punjab’s first Shramik Express with 1,188 migrants heads for Jharkhand
The first Shramik Express train from Punjab with 1,188 migrants workers on board left Jalandhar railway station for Daltonganj in Jharkhand on Tuesday afternoon, Jalandhar police commissioner, Gurpreet Singh Bhullar said.
At Jalandhar railway station, the migrants were emotional and excited as they were returning to their native places amid the coronavirus pandemic. The migrants had registered themselves on a Punjab government portal to facilitate their travel. The train will make a non-stop journey.
Police commissioner Bhullar said that the medical teams began screening the travellers since morning at three different places including Khalsa School, Nakodar Road and Guru Nanak Dev University regional campus. The passengers were then brought to the railway station in the 20 buses and boarded on the train while maintaining social distancing.
Migrant Manoj Kumar, 25 who travelled along with wife and two kids, said that he came from Jharkhand to Jalandhar in February to work in a factory and run out of money as the factory shut operations due to the lockdown the check the spread of Covid-19. A relieved Kumar said that they had been eagerly waiting for this day to go home and meet their parents.
“The factory owners had paid my dues but I have no money left. I was surviving on rations given by the government and NGOs,” Kumar said.
Many migrants have a similar story of empty pockets and unemployment forcing them to their native villages. Some of the workers also said that they would return to Punjab once the situation becomes normal.
Vikas Kumar, 18 said that he was harassed by his landlord for room rent even though he told them that he had no money. He later shifted to stay with some of his friends. “I am happy that I am going back to my home”, Kumar said.
Dina Nath, 40, said that he had been living in Jalandhar from the last five years and was forced to return home after the factory where he was working has remained shut since the lockdown began.
Kailash Kumar and three of his friends had come to Punjab in January this year but are now jobless. They are going back home where they say they will seek alternate livelihoods.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government has written to divisional railway manager of Ferozepur division to run two special trains – one to Varanasi and one to Lucknow on Tuesday evening.