'All we have been left to do is walk and wait'

A Northern Railway official said the Railway Board had issued directives to prohibit journalists from reporting on migrant workers from inside the rly stations

New delhi: 20-year-old Roshan Kumar left IMT Manesar on foot around 10 days ago with two of his colleagues, all three of whom used to work as welders in Maruti's factory — at least till the COVID-19

lockdown was announced. Neither of them has received their salaries since March and now that Maruti has started operations with limited staff, they say they are not being called to work.

However, after having registered to board a Shramik Special Train to Bihar's Madhupur district five days ago, Kumar has not heard a peep from the authorities on when or where he should board the train. Three other friends of Kumar joined him on the journey to Delhi from Haryana and have now been living as vagabonds on the streets of the Capital.

But the problem of Shramik train registrations having exorbitant and unexplained delays is not isolated. For instance, 17-year-old Sourav and his father had registered to get on a Shramik Special Train from Delhi on May 9.

"We first received a message confirming our registration, but it said the exact travel details will be communicated in two-three days. Since then, we have received no call or message," Sourav said, as he and his father were turned away from Old Delhi Railway Station by police. His father has been working as a labourer in Sultanpuri for close to 10 years now.

Northern Railway officials said that these problems must be addressed by district officials as they are coordinating registration of migrant workers. However, speaking to the Millennium Post, one DM said that it is a matter for the Centre to deal with as it is their responsibility, adding that these problems are likely to be reported from the ground.

Kumar, on the other hand, is desperate to get home. "My father died four days ago and I must find a way to go home as soon as possible," he said, standing at a bus stop near Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium. He and his friends were also hours ago turned away from the Old Delhi Railway Station. One of his friends added that they had spoken to the district nodal officer for migrant workers and that they were told he could do nothing to help them out.

When asked why journalists were not allowed to enter the Railway Station to report on the migrant workers, a Northern Railway official said: "We have received directive from the Railway Board to not allow any journalists inside as it may lead to news that may send migrant workers into a panic."

"We managed to cross the Haryana border when a kind policeman showed us a way to avoid police barricades there. Even we don't know whether we have any humanity left in us, given the way we have been treated," Guddu Kumar, one of Roshan's other friends said.

Meanwhile, Sourav said that his father and him have made at least four trips from Sultanpuri to the railway station but were turned back every time. "We have been living on whatever charity we get from police and other people in terms of food and ration," he said, adding that there are scores of other migrant workers in Sultanpuri who have been left in a lurch for weeks without confirmation of their travel.

One of the other Maruti workers, Shivam (25) said: "We have registered. What harm will it do to let my friend go home to lay his father to rest. Is there even any humanity left. All we have been left to do so far is walk and wait and nothing else."

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