Migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh who were stranded in Bhayandar because of no work and lockdown would have felt relief as they finally managed to board a train on Thursday to return to their rural homes in Gorakhpur from Vasai Road. When they woke up on Saturday morning to alight at their destination and put their ordeal behind them. However, they shocked to found themselves nearly 750km away from Uttar Pradesh in Odisha.
The Shramik special train, which left from the Vasai Road on Thursday, had travelled a completely different route overnight and taken them to Rourkela in Odisha.
Angry and confused commuters, when asked why this had happened, they were informed by officials that the train’s driver had lost his way because of some mix-up.
Some of the passengers inside the train also tweeted about the incident. The train left Vasai Road on May 21. The migrant workers and their family were taken in MBMC buses to Vasai Road from Jesal Park area. Many political leaders were present there and seem to have been taking credit for this.
Passengers took social media to report blunder
Passengers inside the train also complained that there was no water inside the trains. One of the passengers even tweeted that the train took a wrong route from Bhusawal and was going to Nagpur. He added that the after 23 hours of the departure, the train was still in Maharashtra.
“We have no food, water or no milk for the children, the temperatures are blisteringly hot. We are eating stale, spoiled leftover food in small portions which we carried from Bhayandar since we left on Thursday. If anybody falls ill, there may be more problems,” Vishal Singh, a student from Gorakhpur, lamented his plight on Twitter.
Congress leader RPN Singh also shared a video of a passenger of the train narrating his ordeal. Some netizens also claimed that it was impossible for the driver to make such blunder, while others claiming that there was a possibility that the railways by mistakenly boarded the migrants on a wrong train.
Railways issued clarification
At least 13 trains which left the two neighbouring states for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the past couple of days have now been yanked off their planned routes and re-routed for their destinations, shocking the travelling passengers.
The new route is via Bilaspur-Jharsuguda-Rourkela for the final destinations in UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, etc, said the sources.
“Due to heavy congestion on Itarsi-Jabalpur-Pt. Deen Dayal Nagar route in view of the running of large numbers of Special Shramik train. It is decided by the Railway Board to run the trains originating from Vasai Road, Udhna, Surat, Valsad, Ankleshwar of WR, Konkan Railway and some stations of CR temporarily on diverted route via Bilaspur – Jharsugda – Raurkela,” said Western Railway Spokesperson Ravindra Bhakar in a statement.
“There is heavy traffic in this sector and since the past couple of days, it is highly congested. Trains are getting delayed by many hours. Hence an alternative route has been designed for quicker movement of the Shramik train,” said Bhakar.
Shramik Special Trains
On May 1, the Centre started over 300 “Shramik Special” trains to take the labourers to their hometowns. But the workers cannot directly book train tickets. They have to first register with the government of the host state, which then coordinates with the government of the home state.
There has been rush to railway stations around the country to board the trains. However, the police have pushed the labourers back, in some cases using force to do so.
There have also been complaints of black marketing of tickets for the trains. Tickets that never arrived have been sold for prices as exorbitant as Rs 1,500.