New Delhi: A crowd of 60-80 migrants gathered outside the New Delhi railway station Monday with the hope of booking tickets to their home states.
While the government announced bookings can be done only online via IRCTC website, many people were unaware of it. There were also those who claimed they didn’t have the means to book online.
Hitesh Kumar, who works as a cart-puller, said he did not know that bookings had to be done online.
“I first visited the station at 4 am looking to stand in line but found no one at the ticket counter. I tried to go inside now but the police hit us with lathis and asked us to leave,” said Kumar, a native of Bihar.
Daily wage labourer Ram Kumar Singh, a resident of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, said he had come to the station in the hope of booking a ticket because he doesn’t have access to the internet. “I have a basic phone, which doesn’t support an internet connection. How do I book a ticket?”
Others who had access to the internet couldn’t book tickets as they didn’t have either credit or debit cards.
“I don’t have a credit card. I came here in the hope that I’ll be able to pay for the ticket in cash. Not everyone has a debit or credit card. They should’ve kept this in mind,” said Altaf, a shawl seller from Srinagar.
Police at the railway station dispersed the crowd outside the station as they have been strictly instructed not to allow anyone inside the station.
“At least 60 people have come in, in the last 2 hours that I’ve been on duty. We have strict instructions not to allow anyone inside. On Tuesday also, only those with confirmed e-tickets will be allowed inside,” said Soni Kumar, a police constable who stood guard at the entrance of the station.
‘Why is the govt hoodwinking people?’
The crowd outside the station also comprised those who had come when the IRCTC website remained down for at least 40 minutes after 4 pm.
Mithilesh Kumar, a resident of Bihar’s Bhagalpur, said he had come walking from Sadar Bazar since the site wasn’t working.
“The site is not working. Why is the government hoodwinking people? If they’ve said the site will open at 4 pm, then why isn’t it working?”
Several people also claimed the train tickets are too expensive.
Ramakant Dubey, who hails from UP’s Siddharthnagar, said the train will only take him to Lucknow, which is 270 km away from his place.
“How can I pay Rs 3,000 for a train that won’t even take me all the way (to my home)? How will I go to Siddharthnagar from Lucknow?” he said.
Charged more at cyber cafes
While the government has barred agents from booking tickets, several people outside the railway station claimed they had visited cyber cafes before coming to the station where they were asked to pay more for the tickets.
“I visited at least five cyber cafes and no one was booking tickets. Finally one cyber cafe said it would book my ticket to Jammu for Rs 2,500, while the original fare is Rs 1,700,” said Altaf from Srinagar.
ThePrint reached northern railway’s chief public relations officers Deepak Kumar through calls and messages for a comment on these issues, but there was no response until the time of publishing the report.
Sunday’s announcement that the Indian Railways will restart a small number of passenger trains from Tuesday was seen as a major indication that the country could slowly move towards normalcy.
The railways had shut down all passenger trains from 22 March, the day observed as ‘janata curfew’ at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after which India was brought under a strict lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.