Gujarat: Stranded migrants take to social media, seek help to return home

As per the labour and employment department of Gujarat government, 1,017 Shramik Special trains were operated from May 2 to May 31 ferrying 15,18,000 migrant workers to their home states.




A day after state government announced the closure of Shramik Special train services for stranded migrant workers in Gujarat, the ones left out have taken to social media to seek help.

As per the labour and employment department of Gujarat government, 1,017 Shramik Special trains were operated from May 2 to May 31 ferrying 15,18,000 migrant workers to their home states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir.

However, there are still many who have been left out of the “reverse migration” operation and for them, social media remains the only outlet to seek help. On Sunday, a Twitter user posted details of 127 women workers from Jharkhand stranded at a factory in Valsad. With no money and minimal food ration, the workers wished to go back home but claim that they were not aware of the train services.

“Since we live in a hostel adjacent to the factory, we could not go to the collector’s office and register ourselves. Only recently we got to know that trains have gone to Jharkhand as well. We were last paid our salary on May 9 and we have no money left to buy ration,” said Devi Mandi, one among the group who stays on the premises of The Welspun Group company in Valsad.

The tweet seeking help gained ground on the internet and soon it caught the notice of Shamsher Singh, additional director General of police (ADGP) CID Crime who then asked the local police to engage.

“Our senior officials have met the company’s representatives and women workers. We have asked them to prepare a list and till now a total of 49 from Jharkhand have agreed to go back. Since all Shramik special trains have left, we are speaking to the railway authorities to arrange for a halt at Valsad station for a special passenger train from Gujarat to West Bengal which has a stoppage in Jharkhand,” said Sunil Joshi, Superintendent of Police, Valsad.

In Ahmedabad as well, the requests from migrant workers from Jharkhand and West Bengal have emerged on social media.

Muadhusudan Bara, 27, a migrant worker from West Singhbhum of Jharkhand, who has been stuck in Ahmedabad since February, said: “We registered ourselves in the government portal for travel in Shramik special trains but never got an acknowledgement of our registrations. Calls on helpline numbers went unanswered for days and now we have come to know that all trains for Jharkhand have left. With no option, I took to Twitter to seek help.”

Similarly, 24-year-old Ajay Yadav, a worker from Puri of Odisha, is stuck in Rakhial area of Ahmedabad since March. He took to Twitter to seek help from popular Bollywood actor Sonu Sood who has been in the news for helping migrant workers reach home.

“We have been queuing outside the ticket reservation counter at Kalupur station, but the officials say that there are no trains to Odisha right now — neither Shramik Special trains nor special passenger trains,” said Yadav.

Speaking to The Indian Express, ADGP Shamsher Singh said, “Police’s job is to coordinate the entire arrangement of workers boarding trains from Gujarat to their native place. But as the Shramik trains have left, we are trying to reach out to all needy people and make whatever arrangements possible. Like in the Valsad case, in each case, we inform the district SP and Collector to reach out to the needy.”

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