Scenes of joy at Lucknow station, first special train ferrying 800 migrant workers arrives in UP
Mulayam Singh Yadav was among the first to get off the special train as it arrived at platform number 1 of the Lucknow railway station, where health officials, policemen and news photographers waited for them.
The 02121 Shramik Special carried over 800 others from Maharashtra’s Nashik, all stranded there for weeks after a lockdown to fight coronavirus was imposed nationwide.
While Uttar Pradesh has already brought in several bus-loads of workers back to the home state, Yadav’s group is the first batch to be brought home to the state by train.
Thirty-two buses waited outside the station to take the labourers to their onward journey to different districts.
Eager to reunite with his family in Janunpur’s Machlishahr, Yadav said, “It is a matter of barely a few hours.” Yadav, in his mid twenties, had boarded the train in Nashik on Saturday morning. It reached Lucknow at around 5.52 am on Sunday.
The railways had said it will start “Shramik Special” trains to move migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded in various parts of the country due to the lockdown.
At around 5.34 am, the first announcement of the arrival of 02121 Shramik Special from Nashik on Platform number 1 was made.
Railway, health and police officials stood alert. The ticket examiners were deployed on the platform to ensure that the arriving passengers adhere to the norms of social distancing.
As the train made its halt, the enthusiastic passengers waved at policemen and health officials.
A senior railway official said two exit routes were planned for the passengers.
The passengers were allowed to leave the station premises only after their medical check-up was done.
Thereafter, they were given food packets and boarded to the UPSRTC buses that would take them to their respective districts.
Arun Chauhan, who worked as a driver is Nashik and hails from Azamgarh, was thankful for the arrangements made by the government to facilitate the return of migrant workers to their native places.
He, along with his friends Rajesh Kumar, Om Prakash and Neeraj Kumar, boarded the Azamgarh-bound bus and waved at the policemen and other officials as his onward journey to home began.
Surya Jaikumar from Sonbhadra said, “We faced no problem of food and water during our journey. Now, I am looking forward to return back to my village.” Mohammed Arif, who hails from Shamli, too was happy to return home.
“I worked as a welder. Once lockdown is lifted and travel permission is allowed, I may think of going back. However, till the time lockdown is in place, I will stay in my home,” he said.
Pramod, who worked as a daily wage labourer and hails from Maharajganj, was tying his jute bag and covering his face with a green-coloured towel as he was readying himself to board the bus for home.
The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation had deployed 32 buses outside the railway station to take the migrant workers home, Regional Manager of UPSRTC’s Lucknow depot P K Bose said.