Hundreds of migrant workers, who have been stranded in Karnataka amid the nationwide lockdown, gathered at the Central Railway Station in Mangaluru on Friday after rumors spread that special trains had been arranged to take them home, The New Indian Express reported. The incident came a day after the Karnataka government resumed special train services for the stranded workers.
The workers, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, arrived at the railway station in the morning, only to find out that no trains were scheduled for the day, according to The Hindu.
According to ANI, the workers staged a protest at the railway station, demanding that they be allowed to go home. The police and district officials then persuaded them to leave and promised them that they will make arrangements to send them home.
Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashok told the news agency that the government was awaiting consent from other states to send the migrant workers home. “We have already booked 16 trains and are ready to send the migrant workers,” he said. “Bihar has given permission for one train every day. The Karnataka government is not at fault.”
The crowding was reportedly prompted by a social media post claiming that free special trains had been arranged for workers, according to PTI.
The Karnataka government had faced fierce criticism for cancelling special trains for migrant workers on Tuesday after prominent builders and real estate firms from the state reportedly expressed concerns over the mass exodus of labourers. The government resumed the trains two days later.
Even though the government is running special trains for stranded migrant workers, many have started walking back home. On Friday, at least 16 migrant labourers were killed after a cargo train ran over them in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad. The exhausted migrants, who had been walking along the rail tracks, had fallen asleep on the tracks.
On Thursday, a migrant worker and his wife were killed in a car crash on Thursday morning in Lucknow, while attempting to cycle their way from a village near the city to their hometown in Chhattisgarh.