The Railways on Friday rolled out five more non-stop “Shramik Special” trains to ferry migrant workers, students and others.

Apart from the one from Telangana to Jharkhand, five more services have been launched: Aluva(Kerala) to Bhubaneswar(Odisha), Nashik(Maharashtra) to Lucknow(UP), Nashik to Bhopal(MP), Jaipur(Rajasthan) to Patna(Bihar) and Kota(Rajasthan) to Hatia, which is in the outskirts of Ranchi city.

The train services followed demands from multiple states who felt it will be a logistical nightmare to transport lakhs of migrants back to their home towns in buses which was envisaged in the April 29 guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Special train ferries migrants from Telangana to Jharkhand

Necessary precautions like prior screening, social distancing at stations, trains followed

Signalling a big relief for stranded migrants across the country, the Indian Railways operated a special train on Friday to ferry over 1,000 workers from Telangana to Jharkhand after the Railways Ministry acceded to the request of the state government for facilitating their return.

Two days after the government allowed the inter-state movement of migrants – most of whom are stuck at worksites without any pay, and rely on government aid for food – the first non-stop 22-coach special train left Lingampally station in Telangana at 5:30 am for Hatia in Jharkhand with about 1,200 workers.

Of these, around 500 workers were from the IIT-Hyderabad campus in Sangareddy who had clashed with the police on Tuesday while trying to force their way out of the premises. The workers pelted stones at police personnel injuring two cops and damaging a police vehicle. They demanded that either be sent home or allowed to leave on foot.

They were taken to the Lingampally station in 57 buses yesterday.

The whole operation was carried out in a hush-hush manner to avoid panic among other migrants desperate to go home, officials said refusing to divulge any further details. They, however, added that all necessary precautions such as prior screening, maintaining social distancing at the station and in the train were followed.

No welcome at home

Meanwhile, those who managed to return home by other means faced ostracisation by their neighbours. A group of labourers, stuck in Tamil Nadu since the lockdown came into effect on March 24, was greeted with ‘go back’ slogans and villagers even put up roadblocks to prevent their entry.

The Andhra Pradesh police had facilitated their movement in five buses, but when they reached their hamlet in Rajam panchayat in Srikakulam district, locals, most of them women and youth, started protesting. The police tried to reason with them that the labourers had undergone screening and will be quarantined in the local school for 14 days, but the villagers remained adamant. They demanded that the labourers be taken to the hospital instead.

Later, cops had to use force to disperse the crowd and move the labourers to the school.

“When you are not allowing us into our own village, burn us here only”, a pained migrant said.