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Bihar: Migrant Workers Struggle to Return to Work After Chhath as Trains are Packed

Thousands of migrant workers have been waiting on platforms to get confirmed tickets to go back, even as officials claim to be running special trains.
Thousands of migrant workers have been waiting on platforms to get confirmed tickets to go back, even as officials claim to be running special trains.

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: Gajendar Yadav, a migrant worker, after standing for more than five hours in a long queue on Wednesday in Patna, failed to get a Tatkal train ticket to travel to Ludhiana, as all Tatkal tickets sold out within two minutes. He said he lost all hope to get a confirmed ticket and had to buy a ticket in an unreserved coach.

“I have no option and am being forced to travel in an overcrowded train without a confirmed ticket. No confirmed ticket is available in any train till next week but I have to return to go back to work” Yadav, a resident of neighbouring Jehanabad district, told NewsClick.

Thousands of migrant workers like Yadav are facing a big challenge to return back to their workplace after celebrating the four-day long Chhath, the most popular Hindu festival in the state, which concluded on November 20.

After Chhath, all railway stations across Bihar are witnessing huge crowds of migrant workers jostling to go back. There are long queues at reservation counters with most workers returning disappointed.

Naresh Prasad, a coolie at Rajendar Nagar railway station in Patna, told NewsClick that the crowd is so heavy that it is not easy to enter general, sleeper or AC bogies. “During the past two dayswe have come across unbelievable crowds, mostly poor people, entering trains through windows or the emergency exit to ensure travel at any cost. This is a pathetic situation for those trying to return to their work place after Chhath”, he said.

“All the railway stations in Patna are overcrowded. There is no space on the platforms, either. More or less a similar situation can be seen at Hajipur and Sonepur railway stations in neighbouring Vaishali and Chapra district. No train reservation is available this month. We will have to travel for hours, sitting in overcrowded general or
sleeper bogies”, said Vikash Kumar, another migrant worker, who works in a tools manufacturing factory in Tamil Nadu.

Kumar said that he, along with his wife and three minor children, will have a tough time travelling without confirmed tickets as the journey to the Southern state is long. “We had confirmed reservation while travelling from Coimbatore to Patna ahead of Diwali, but there is no chance of getting a ‘confirmed’ ticket now.”

Contrary to the Indian Railways’ claims of running dozens of special trains to different cities across India from Patna and other districts of Bihar in view of big rush after Chhath, the reality on the ground suggests that there are less numbers of trains as compared to the crowd.

Birendar Kumar, chief public relations officer of Hajipur-based the East Central Railways, however, told NewsClick that dozens of special trains were running from Bihar to clear the rush after Chhath. But, he admitted that the trains were overcrowded.

According to a travel agent near Patna junction, no berths are available for most long-route trains. “The officials at the reservation counter informed us that there are no confirmed tickets in any trains due to the long waiting list.”

He said most of the migrant workers cannot afford to travel in AC bogies or take a flight.

Most of the migrant workers are returning to their jobs in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Himachal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. As per report, hundreds of workers have been waiting at
various railway stations across Bihar to board long-distance trains since Monday night.

Meanwhile taking advantage of the helpless migrant workers, dozens of brokers could be seen roaming at Patna railway station, promising reservation for some “extra fee”.

As per unofficial figures, nearly 5 million migrant workers from across India came back to the state last week to celebrate Chhath. Some had arrived before Diwali.

There is rush at Patna airport, too, as professionals and skilled migrant workers are in a hurry to return to their workplaces in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru.

“Airlines have hiked fare three-fold,” said an official at Patna airport.

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