Rumours of two additional trains to north India brings hordes of migrants to Bandra Terminus

There was only one train scheduled from Bandra to Bihar, but migrants say they had received information of two more trains going to north India

Image: Hindustan Times


Reminiscent of the crowd of migrants that had gathered at the Bandra Terminus to go back home last month, the morning of May 19, Tuesday, showed a larger crowd at the same location, waiting to catch a ‘Shramik special’ train to return home.

As social distancing became a nightmare, thousands of migrant workers turned up at Bandra Terminus, allegedly after a rumour that the Railways was planning to run additional trains apart from the scheduled one to north India later in the day.



Rumours led to the chaos?

According to officials, there was one train that was supposed to leave from Bandra to Purnia, Bihar at noon on Tuesday. However, several migrants told the media that there were rumours suggesting that two additional trains were to set off from Bandra to Bihar later – one in the afternoon and one later in the evening.

The rumours led at least 4,000 – 5,000 migrants (unofficial estimates) to gather there in the hope that they too would get a chance of going home after having waited for over two months.

However, the police said that they had allowed only 1,700 people who had registered to board the noon train and sent away the others back home.

“There was a rumour that there is another train in the evening, so migrants from Dadar, Mahim, Sion, Chembur… gathered here, but we spoke to them and asked them to leave,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Manjunath Singe speaking to The Print.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Singhe said, “Around 1,300 to 1,400 people had gathered on the flyover near Bandra Terminus at 9 am. Another 300 to 400 people crowded the station again at 3 pm. We assured them that special trains were being run every day and that they would be informed of their date of departure soon.”

An officer from the Government Railway Police (GRP) said, “Many migrant workers were under the impression that the Railways has scheduled an additional train on Tuesday to get them back home for Eid,” said Ravindra Sengaonkar, Mumbai GRP Commissioner.

Police taking bribes, being violent say migrants

Migrant workers also alleged that the police were taking bribes to get people on the train and also said that the police lathicharged them while they were there.

The process of registering for these special trains can be quite painful for these migrants. Volunteers first make a list of migrants and submit it to a police station, which forwards it to the district collector’s office. The district collector then forwards this list to the destination state and once that state approves the list, a train is assigned by the railway ministry for the same. The police then informs the workers to be ready for their journey.

However, according to some, this process can easily take between 10 to 15 days. Amid such desperation, the wait adds to their restlessness as they wait to hear from the police. In case of the crowd that gathered at the Bandra Terminus yesterday, some migrants told the media that they had heard that they knew of people who returned without a registration and wanted to try their luck with the same.

Mohammed Tabrez, who arrived at the station 2 AM, said he had registered with police 15 days ago but not heard back. “I had heard some men left in the train without being registered so I thought I will line up to try and do the same, but police asked us to leave,” he added.

Workers alleged that the police were asking them give Rs. 1,000 – 1,500 per ticket to board the trains. “Those who have money are going, they [police] are asking us for Rs 1,000-1,500 to board the train,” said Mohammed Shamshad. The migrant labourer from Sitamarhi, Bihar, added that he had no money left for survival.

A labourer, Raja Babu, alleged that the “police beat us mercilessly from all sides” even though he received a message to board the train. Other migrant labourers too showed their injuries, reportedly sustained during the lathicharge.

Police denies allegations

The police, however, denied all allegations of bribery and violence. Singhe said, “Mumbai police is trying its best to send the migrant labourers home, such allegations are baseless,” adding that the police only “displayed” force but didn’t use it.

Paramilitary forces deployed in Mumbai

Owing to the rising number of cases in the city, five companies of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been stationed in various areas of Mumbai starting Tuesday. There are three companies from the CISF and two from the CRPF and consist of 120 personnel each who are trained to deal with any exigencies arising out of enforcing the lockdown, reported the Mumbai Mirror.



Maharashtra had requested for twenty companies of Central forces and this is the first batch of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) to arrive to assist the city police in the containment of the virus. Over a 1,000 police personnel in the state have tested positive for Covid-19, with nearly 600 being under quarantine in Mumbai alone.



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