Ahmedabad: The Ahmedabad railway station, after witnessing subdued activity for months, is bustling once again.
Hundreds of migrant workers have gathered here to return home amidst the rising Covid-19 cases in Gujarat.
A sense of urgency and anxiety can be felt in the air of the railway station.
Shakeel Khan, a porter working at the railway station, told ThePrint that the crowds only began gathering over the last two days, with trains running at full capacity.
“The night curfew has forced these people from far away to crowd here,” he said. “Some of them have trains at 2 am but they come early because it gets difficult to find transportation post 5 pm.”
Gujarat has imposed a night curfew, between 8 pm and 6 am, in 20 cities until the month end.
The migrants are mostly from Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
Among those heading back is 17-year-old Seema Khosle, a Bilaspur resident who is with her father and 14-year-old sister.
The trio work in a brick kiln and earn Rs 500-600 for every 1000 bricks they produce.
“We are afraid that we will get stuck here if we stay and a lockdown happens,” Seema’s father said. “Anyway we don’t earn enough and we have no savings. The government doesn’t help and our employers won’t help either.”
The Khosle family has already suffered in one lockdown. They explained that they had been working as migrant labourers in Madhya Pradesh when last year’s lockdown came into effect. “We managed to get a bus to reach halfway; we walked the rest of the way back home,” the father said.
‘Will fall sick among family’
A number of those returning home fear another lockdown in Gujarat due to the spiralling situation.
“See, anybody will want to go home if the situation is so bad. We don’t want to get stuck here in case a lockdown happens. We’d rather be with our family,” said Krishna Yadav, a 24-year-old heading home to Bihar.
Yadav’s train is scheduled for 11 pm in the night but he had reached the railway station at 1 pm. “I work and live in a plastic factory 60 km from here. With night curfew, there are no means to travel,” he said.
Soni Miri, a 31-year-old from Chhattisgarh, has packed her utensils and food and is heading back to her family. “I have a son back home. I am going back to him,” she said. “The Covid cases are increasing here, we don’t want to live here.”
When told that Chhattisgrah too has a massive outbreak, she said,“Nevermind, I’d rather fall sick with my family than die here alone.”
Miri too worked in a brick kiln.
A railway employee on the platform informed ThePrint that the exodus only started a few days ago. “Most of the workers from Bihar, UP and West Bengal are going. All the trains to Howrah are running full,” he said.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)
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