HYDERABAD: It’s circa March, 2020 once again. Soon after the State government imposed a night curfew from Tuesday, a large number of migrant workers from the city have begun to leave for their native places. The unfolding scenes at Secunderabad Railway Station brought back memories of a similar crisis last year following the nationwide lockdown. Scores of migrant workers in Hyderabad, who largely hail from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha, fear that the night curfew will soon evolve into a full-fledged lockdown. In such a scenario, the migrants worry that like last year, they would be forced to either walk back or take alternative modes of transport like lorries and private buses for which they would have to shell out huge sums.
“It was a nightmare to walk for six days, covering more than 660 km with my aged parents last year. We cannot relive the same dreadful experience this time, which is why we are leaving the city now itself,” said 19-year-old Rakesh Padhi from Balaghat, MP. He was waiting outside Secunderabad station along with 12 other people — all from the same village — to get a train and leave the city.
The migrant workers claim that ever since the Covid-19 cases have shot up, the work for them has also started to dry up. “We came from Maharashtra to work here just a few months ago. But, after the curfew was announced on Tuesday, our contractor ran off without even paying many of us. Now, we do not even have money to go back home. Many others who had come with us have already left for the village,” said 53-year-old Malti, who was with her two sons, daughter-in-law and her grandson at the railway station.
Many other workers were seen with their luggage at various transit points in the city. “We are not going to wait this year. We have already vacated our rented house and will wait at the station until we get a ticket and reach home as soon as possible,” said 21-year-old Samir Kuswaha, who works as a painter.
Speaking to the Express, IRCTC officials on the condition of anonymity, said that trains coming to Hyderabad from Delhi UP, and West Bengal are almost empty. However, while leaving from Hyderabad, these trains including Telangana Express doing to Delhi, Falaknuma Express going towards Kolkata, Danapur to Uttar Pradesh and Dakshin Express — are packed with passengers, mostly daily-wage workers. They also added that in the last two days, the number of migrants waiting outside the station have increased multiple-fold.