More than 3,000 migrant workers, many of them from north India and employed in districts across Karnataka, assembled near the city's Palace Grounds in the wee hours of Wednesday to board a Shramik Special Train with a seating capacity of 1,700. The train was bound for Haridwar, Uttarakhand and was scheduled to depart on Wednesday evening, the Times of India reported.
The migrant workers, wanting to go home, stood for close to ten hours in the sweltering heat. Some managed to get on the train that left from the Cantonment station at 8 pm.
But many couldn’t board it. Several workers were employed as cooking staff in hotels in various parts of the states, primarily Udupi, Belagavi and Mangaluru, the report added. The group included 50 women and children.
“My friends and I paid Rs 25,000 for a taxi ride from Gokak, Belagavi to Bengaluru hoping to find a seat in the train,” Narendra Singh, a cook, with multiple leg injuries told ToI.
Several migrant workers have fallen sick or died on their way home, either from exhaustion or in accidents, highlighting the risks the poor have been exposed to since the lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus was announced in March.
"I came from Udupi on Tuesday by asking rides and paying people en route. I have been waiting here since 4 am,” Manoj Negi, another migrant worker from Pithoragarh was quoted as saying.
Police officials were grappling with the situation, trying to contain the crowd. Several migrants had registered online and had received text messages from the Uttarakhand government. A few, had not been granted permission but had come to try and secure a seat.
Those queuing included workers from Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. In some respite, around 1,700 people, majority of them headed to Uttarakhand were packed into busses taken to Cantonment railway station. The remaining, carrying their belongings, walked back to their camps.