Happy faces as over 1,000 migrant laborers leave for MP in first special train from Delhi
"I was staying at a shelter home in Roopnagar for the last eight days. I polish marble slabs for a living. I will come back when things get back to normal," said Balram Kumar, one of the outbound migr
NEW DELHI: Carrying their belongings in bags of all shapes and sizes, over 1,000 migrant workers left for their homes in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday in the first Shramik Special train to leave the national capital, their happiness visible even through the face masks they wore to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Clapping and waiving goodbyes to the railway and security personnel at the platform, many of the migrant workers, who were ferried to the railway station in over 70 buses arranged by the Delhi government, said they would be back when things got back to normal.
"I was staying at a shelter home in Roopnagar for the last eight days. I polish marble slabs for a living. I will come back when things get back to normal," said Balram Kumar, one of the outbound migrants.
Hours before the arrival of the migrants, the road leading to the New Delhi Railway Station was barricaded.
After they alighted from the buses, their names were cross-checked by officials. One of them was not allowed to board the train as he did not come in any of the buses but walked 20 km from South Delhi to reach the station.
Each bus, which picked up the migrants from shelter homes, carried not more than 20 people each, keeping in mind the social-distancing measures in place due to the coronavirus crisis.
After alighting from the buses, the passengers stood in circular rings some feet apart from each other outside the station in accordance with social-distancing norms.
They were allowed in the station in batches and railway officials guided them to the train.
"They were very happy and they waived us goodbye and we clapped for them," an official said.
On the platform also, authorities had marked white circular rings for the passengers to stand at a safe distance from each other.
"First train carrying 1050 migrants from Delhi left for Chattarpur, MP, today at 8 pm. A series of such trains would be carrying migrants to different parts of India in the coming days," Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot tweeted, with a video of the train leaving the station.
The video shows passengers and security personnel waiving at each other and clapping.
Thousands of migrant laborers across the country were stranded after the nationwide lockdown was announced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Railways started the migrant special services from May 1 and has since then operated 171 such trains.
However, for 32-year-old Hazari Lal Patel, the wait to meet his three-year-old son has now become longer.
"I wanted to go to Khajurao in Madhya Pradesh. I have a valid ticket but the police didn't allow me to go inside. I live in Chhatarpur in south Delhi from last five to six years and working as a data entry man in a private organisation. Police said that I didn't come by the buses and asked me go back. Now, I am going back to my home in Chhatarpur," said Patel, who has lost his job and has no money left.
He had walked from South Delhi to the station which is around 20 km.