Coronavirus outbreak: Unable to leave for homes, daily-wagers marooned in train stations

Updated: Mar 28, 2020, 07:17 IST | Rajendra B Aklekar, Faizan Khan | Mumbai

While some from Kurla station were taken to shelters, others told to go into home-quarantine have no shelter here, seek government help

Stranded commuters sleep under the SCLR. Pic/Mustaq Ansari
Stranded commuters sleep under the SCLR. Pic/Mustaq Ansari

Over 200 migrant daily-wage workers and some commuters stuck under the flyover at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT), Kurla, were rescued and taken by special buses to a temporary shelter home in Chembur on Thursday.

They were unable to leave for their homes after trains shut down on March 22 due to the lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19, and were since living on the tracks and under the flyover.

THE Tilak Nagar RPF also visited those still there and asked the authorities to shift them too to
a shelter.

Officials said after train services shut down on March 22, thousands of passengers were stuck. But while many of them dispersed from stations, many who had nowhere to go were living under the SCLR flyover.

School turned into shelter

"These were mostly labourers from a number of states like UP, Bihar, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and also from interior districts of Maharashtra like Buldhana and Solapur. After receiving a message, we alerted the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) local ward office, which swung into action with relief material and opened a school at Chembur which has been converted into a temporary shelter," Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Kurla, Mangesh Kudalkar said.

The legislator said they had organised a few state transport buses till 12 am and a few more passengers are still in the process of being shifted. "The crisis has led to unprecedented problems and it is important to keep people safe sothat the epidemic does not escalate," he added.

Some of the daily wage workers show the reports from Bhabha Hospital asking that they be home quarantinedSome of the daily wage workers show the reports from Bhabha Hospital asking that they be home quarantined

At least 16 of the stranded daily wage workers living on the tracks near LTT have viral flu. They have been asked to be in home quarantine, by the Bhabha Hospital as it could make them susceptible to COVID-19. On Friday BMC officials took eight of them to quarantine them.

'Police thrashed us'

Some of the workers had alleged that on Thursday they were lathicharged by the Tilak Nagar police. Until Friday, they got a little food thanks to good Samaritans and locals. One of the daily wage workers, Hamid, who was stamped for home quarantine by Bhabha Hospital said, "I was leaving for Uttar Pradesh but the very day the lockdown was announced and trains stopped running. Whatever money I was had is almost over and there is no work so I can't even work for few days and earn. I had a cough and cold and visited Bhabha Hospital where I was asked to be in home quarantine for 14 days. But the stamp on my hands disappeared after I washed them."

Monu, who had come from Uttar Pradesh for a housekeeping job interview, said, "No one from the government came to help us. Only locals gave us food. I have not even taken a shower since the lockdown. I came here for a job interview and was going back home. I don't have a paisa for food and on Thursday we were lathicharged by police saying we can't gather here."

RPF also helps

After photos of some of the workers living near the tracks went viral, the Tilak Nagar RPF also visited the spot on Friday and provided food to those still there. "I along with my team visited the area where 150 to 200 people were living below the bridge. We arranged food for them and informed the authorities concerned to shift them to a shelter," said Keshav Kumar Rana, senior PI, RPF Kurla.

Mumbai Police spokesperson DCP Pranaya Ashok said, "The making of shelter homes is in process by BMC, soon all will be shifted to the designated place."

Senior PI of Tilak Nagar police station, Sushil Kamble, didn't respond to calls and messages.

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