Hundreds of migrant labourers who thought they were travelling from Mumbai to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh instead landed up in Odisha’s Rourkela city on Friday, after the “Shramik Special” train they were travelling in took a different route, News18 reported on Saturday. The special train had left from Bhayander in Mumbai on Thursday.
One of the passengers told ABP News that he wanted to travel to Kanpur, so he got on the Gorakhpur train. “We now realised that the train has reached Rourkela,” he added. “The train is taking a long route. We have no idea when the train will reach Gorakhpur.”
Some passengers said officials present in Rourkela told them that the motorman lost his way due to some mix-up. However, the Railways said it had intentionally changed the route.
“We have decided to run a few of the Shramik trains on diverted routes,” an unidentified official told News18. “Some trains were diverted for Bihar via Rourkela to clear congestion.”
But it is not clear why the passengers were not informed that the route had been changed. They have also not received any update on when the train would leave for Gorakhpur.
Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers were left stranded in their places of work after the Centre declared a nationwide lockdown on March 25 to limit the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Subsequently, many began making their way home on foot, over long distances.
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.
India has so far reported 1,25,101 cases of the coronavirus, including 3,720 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The nationwide lockdown is set to conclude on May 31.