Mumbai witnessed a flood of migrants desperate to leave the city gathering outside Mumbai´s Bandra station at 10-11 AM today to catch a Shramik special train.
Shramik trains are a special initiative arranged by the government to ferry home the lakhs of migrant labourers stranded across India’s urban centres by the Covid-19 lockdown. While the lockdown began on 25 March, the trains were announced on 1 May.
A Shramik train was scheduled to depart from Bandra for Purnia, Bihar, at noon. However, migrant workers gathered in hordes due to a rumor that suggested more trains were to set off from Bandra for Bihar later in the day.
As a result, around 4-5000 people gathered outside the station. Though many had to return home disappointed, only 1000 people could get into trains as there weren’t enough trains to take them to Bihar.
A repeat of the April incident. Crowds again gather at Bandra station in Mumbai.
Where is the lockdown? Where is the govt?
— Jiten Gajaria (@jitengajaria) May 19, 2020
According to sources, the Shramik special train was going from Mumbai to Bihar. There were rumors of the train to Bihar and that led to crowding and chaos at the station. The migrants had to register and only the ones who had registered could go.
Hunger Games, Day-60, India; In major cities, the lockdown seems to have broken. The government has lost control. Hunger and desperation have trumped the fear of the police. Despite that Indian cases are going up exponentially, many cities are opening, for they cannot enforce it. pic.twitter.com/6MMVQ7txmA
— Jayant Bhandari (@JayantBhandari5) May 19, 2020
By noon, the situation had begun to resemble the recent crowd of migrants a month ago. Police evacuated the station soon after by resorting to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd. Among those arriving at the station were a large number of women and children. Additional forces have also been called to the spot from nearby police stations.
Videos from the scene show a sea of people at the Bandra terminus. In a video clip of Tuesday’s incident that went viral on social media, a large number of migrants were seen carrying their luggage and running towards the gate of the Bandra Terminus.
— Adil Khatri (@AdilKhatri12) May 19, 2020
There are 20 lakh laborers in the state who are trying to move to their own states. Most are from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. So far, the Maharashtra government has sent about 3 lakh laborers to their state. There is no record of these laborers driving or walking. This has been confirmed by state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
“Today, a Shramik Special train was scheduled for Purnia from Bandra Terminus for which passengers registered with state authorities were to travel. But many people who were not registered and not called by state authorities gathered on the bridge and the road near station,” said a Western Railways official.
— 🇮🇳Sandeep Singh🇮🇳 (@sandeepfromvns) May 19, 2020
The incident comes over a month after hundreds of migrant workers had assembled near the Bandra station over their demand that arrangements be made for them to return to their native places in the wake of the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.