Migrants on ‘Ram bharose’ journey as India Railways re-routes trains

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BY QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, May 23 (IANS)
The woes of thousands of migrants returning to their home states seemed to multiply as the Indian Railways abruptly changed the routes of several special trains which left Maharashtra and Gujarat in the past couple of days, according to sources here on Saturday.
At least 13 trains which left the two neighboring states for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the past couple of days have now been yanked off their planned routes and re-routed for their destinations, shocking the travelling passengers.
These include special trains which have left or are scheduled to depart from Konkan Railway, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Thane, Vasai Road, Panvel, Kalyan, Pune, Nashik, Manmad, Akola, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jalna, Bhusawal, Jalgaon (Maharashtra), besides Gujarat’s Surat, Udhna, Valsad and Ankleshwar.
The new route is via Bilaspur-Jharsuguda-Rourkela for the final destinations in UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, etc, said the sources.
Confirming the developments, western railway Chief Spokesperson Ravindar Bhakar said that the original planned route was via Itarsi-Manikpur-Pt Deen Dayal Upadhyay Jn.
“There is heavy traffic in this sector and since the past couple of days it is highly congested. Trains are getting delayed by many hours. Hence an alternative route has been designed for quicker movement of the special trains,” Bhakar told IANS.
IR officials informed that the various railway zones have been instructed to take note of the route diversification and arrange for the crew and guard immediately.
Besides the congestion on the Itarsi route, there were safety concerns in view of the cyclonic storm which hit Odisha-West Bengal creating inclement weather conditions in the region.
However, the railways’ honorable intentions have ended up creating bigger problems for the passengers raring to reach their homes after getting stuck in Maharashtra for two months during the ongoing lockdown.
“We have no food, water or no milk for the children, the temperatures are blistering hot. We are eating stale, spoiled leftover food in small portions which we carried from Mumbai since we left on Thursday. If anybody falls ill, there may be more problems,” Vishal Singh, a student from Gorakhpur, lamented his plight to IANS.
A printing press employee in Bhayander (Thane) Baburam Mourya, hailing from Gonda district (UP), said he is with his 10-member family including minor kids with no milk, food or water for anybody.
“The toilets are fully choked up. There is no security on the trains or any conservancy staff to clean the toilets or refill water,” Mourya said, as the train chugged through Jharkhand on Saturday noon.
The duo said when the desperate passengers alight at stations en route to buy food and water, they are abused, heckled and chased away by the locals who don’t cooperate with them.
“The people here fear that since we are coming from Mumbai or Pune, we may be Coronavirus carriers, there’s no cooperation from anywhere. We are on an unending ‘Ram bharose’ journey,” rued Mourya.
Several passengers have lodged online complaints with the IR Twitter handle, Indian Railways Seva, but claimed there has been no relief so far.