Hundreds of workers from Mumbai took a Shramik Special train to reach their home towns in Uttar Pradesh but instead found that they had reached Odisha the next day when they woke up in the morning. On Thursday, the Shramik Special train, which started from Vasai station near Mumbai to reach Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, detoured to reach Rourkela in Odisha.
The migrants who were eager to reach their kin back home were left in the lurch. Upset and bewildered, they asked the railway officials what had transpired. The migrants were told the Shramik Special train’s loco pilot had lost his way due to some confusion, sources said.
Angry and confused, when they asked why this had happened, the officials informed the passengers that the train’s driver had lost his way because of some mix-up.
However, the Indian Railways has denied that the driver could take an unintended route. The department said the change of destination was deliberate. “We have decided to run a few of the Shramik trains on diverted routes. Some trains were diverted for Bihar via Rourkela to clear congestion,” officials said.
Western Railway spokesperson Ravindra Bhakar in a statement said, “It is to inform that Vasai Road-Gorakhpur Shramik Special train which departed on 21 May was to run on Kalyan-Jalgoan-Bhusaval-Khandwa-Itarsi-Jabalpur-Manikpur route but this train will go to Gorakhpur by diverted route via Bilaspur (SECR), Jharsuguda, Rourkela, Adra, Asansol (ER) due to heavy traffic congestion on existing routes.”
“Due to heavy congestion on Itarsi-Jabalpur-Pt. Deen Dayal Nagar route in view of running of large numbers of Shramik Special trains, 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,” he said.
But the question remains why the migrant workers travelling in the train were not informed. They have also not been told about when the train will leave Rourkela for Gorakpur.
As for now the poor migrant labourers in their attempt to reach the familiar confines of their homes, are now marooned in an unknown destination, strait out of the frying pan into the fire.
Amid the nationwide lockdown, thousands of daily wagers and other migrants have undertaken epic journeys to reach home — walking, cycling and hitching rides when they could — in the absence of any public transport and many of them had lost their lives in tragic accidents. Now that the trains and buses have been started by government for them, hopefully they will soon reach their homes safe an d sound.