Hapless migrants in India boarding labourers’ special trains to reach their hometowns now have a new problem to grapple with: Trains getting diverted midway and ending up at the wrong destinations, thereby further delaying the journey. Migrant workers have been left stranded at various Indian cities and towns for more than two months now due to the nationwide lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. On Sunday, around 500 migrants stranded in Bihar boarded a Shramik Special (labourers’ special) train at Samastipur Station to reach Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay (erstwhile Mughal Sarai) Junction in Uttar Pradesh. They got furious when the train reached Muzaffarpur station in Bihar instead and were told to deboard. Angry passengers created a ruckus at the station and refused to get out of the bogies.
They even refused to listen to the appeal of the local police who were rushed to the spot to calm them down. Eventually, railway officials relented and ordered for the train to be dispatched to its original destination. Clueless about the route.
A similar incident occurred last Saturday when a special train ferrying migrants from Mumbai to Madhubani in Bihar reached Odisha instead. “The train had departed from Bandra Terminus [in Mumbai] for Madhubani at 5.30pm on May 21, but the passengers were clueless about the train’s route. It ultimately landed up at Kustaur Station after crossing Rourkela in Odisha,” said one of the passengers, Pramod Kumar, who was on that train.
Railway authorities have offered a bizarre logic for trains ‘straying’ to locations other than their designated destinations, saying that these special trains do not have fixed routes or schedules. “As the nation is passing through an unprecedented crisis due to Covid-19, some trains had to be rerouted due to congestion on certain routes. Still, Railways is trying its best to arrange for required facilities for the passengers,” East-Central Railway’s chief public relations officer Rajesh Kumar said.