After cops drive migrants out of Vasai Suncity grounds, most left without a roof or way to head home

Updated: May 28, 2020, 17:37 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Migrants gathered at Vasai ground had ended home rent contracts; in the lurch after trains are cancelled

An embroidery worker's family from West Bengal thought they would be on a train home. Pic/Suresh Karkera
An embroidery worker's family from West Bengal thought they would be on a train home. Pic/Suresh Karkera

Making a complete mockery of the migrants' situation in the state, the cops at Suncity ground forcefully evicted thousands of them on Wednesday morning after trains to their native places got cancelled. They had gathered there after believing that the trains would run. While most of them don't have jobs and haven't been paid, now, they are also homeless, because they vacated their dwellings in the hope that they would be on a train home. While some of them were packed into buses and dropped off at Nalasopara, Vasai, Virar and Naigaon to avoid crowding, others took shelter under trees near the ground.

More than 3,000 migrants waited overnight for Shramik special trains at the grounds and in the morning they were forcefully sent to nearby areas even while some of them were sleeping. "They were packed in buses and dropped off in areas like Nalasopara, Vasai, Virar and Naigaon to avoid crowding," said a police source.

Jeetendra Chauhan, fish seller, whose family is living under a tree
Jeetendra Chauhan, fish seller, whose family is living under a tree

mid-day spoke to some of the migrants who said that they were caned by the cops and forced to leave the grounds.

A couple of them even told mid-day that they had reached there after confirming with the police that trains would leave for West Bengal. But now they are homeless, as the cops told them that the Howrah-bound trains scheduled to depart from Vasai on Wednesday had been cancelled.

Subodh Ram, a construction labourer, thought he would get a train to Bhagalpur, but is now stuck
Subodh Ram, a construction labourer, thought he would get a train to Bhagalpur, but is now stuck

Sitting under trees
Noor Mohammad Sepai, who worked in the Nalasopara embroidery industry, said, "I reached Suncity grounds in the morning. The cops had told me that a train would leave for Howrah. I immediately went back to my room and asked my family to pack their bags as we would leave for home."

"But when we went to the grounds, we were told that all the trains had been cancelled. We are 30 people including children. We cannot even return to our rooms as we have vacated them and the landlord has warned us not to return. Till now we were jobless, but now we do not even have homes," added Sepai, who has taken shelter under a tree near the grounds with his family.

Asma Begum, a labourer from WB, is still waiting. Pics/Suresh Karkera
Asma Begum, a labourer from WB, is still waiting. Pics/Suresh Karkera

His friend Shaikh Saiful said, "Our families back home are extremely distressed as cyclone Amphan has destroyed everything. The cops are not allowing us to sit in the tent. We have children with us. We don't know what to do."

'We can't even return'
Another migrant, Rustom Ali Shaikh, said, "We hired six autorickshaws from Nalasopara by paying R500 for each to reach Suncity. Now we cannot even go back. The government is not providing us with food and water. A few NGO volunteers gave us khichdi and water bottles."

Subodh Ram

Fish seller Jeetendra Chauhan, who has taken shelter under a tree with his wife and children, said, "I got to know from a friend that a train will leave for Gorakhpur on Wednesday. So, I hired an autorickshaw and paid R400 to reach Suncity grounds on Tuesday night with my family. More than 4,000 migrants had gathered there. We took shelter in the tent but the cops evicted us from the ground in the morning. The cops even caned a few of them. There is no facility of toilets and
even food and water was not provided."

'All food is over'
Nalasopara resident Dablu Ram has been waiting near the grounds with 70 construction workers since May 24 to board a train for Bhagalpur. "We have been waiting here since May 24 night. There is no clarity on when a train for Bhagalpur will leave. We have no food and water left. Jo tha wo kha liya, ab kuch bhi nahi hai khaneke liye (have eaten up whatever was there, nothing more is left). A few good Samaritans have been distributing food and water. Today they gave us khichdi, water bottles and bananas. Our cell-phones are running out of charge. Our relatives back home must be worried about our well-being as there is no way we can reach out to them. We cannot even return to our rooms, as the landlords have warned us not to go back," Ram said.

Meanwhile, speaking to mid-day, additional superintendent of police Vijaykant Sagar said, "None was baton-charged at the grounds. Since a few trains were cancelled, we managed the crowd and requested them to leave the place. Migrants were asked to board the buses and they were dropped near their homes in Nalasopara, Vasai, Virar and other places."

'NGO to erect tent'
Local MLA Hitendra Thakur said, "I have asked the Collector to make arrangements for the female migrants and children at a private school near the grounds. Also, NGO Samadhan Foundation has been doing a good job on ground by helping migrants. They want to erect a tent at the grounds where nearly 20,000 people can take rest. The collector has been asked to give them permission to erect the tent so that the men can be accommodated there."

"There was not a single special train on Wednesday, yet the people had gathered at Suncity grounds. They have been evacuated from there but a couple of them are still there. I have asked the tehsildar to make arrangements for them in shelter homes and they will be sent to their native places in trains," said Collector of Palghar district Kailash Shinde.

Woman bites cop
Meanwhile, the Manikpur police have lodged an FIR against a 35-year-old migrant Gayatri Mishra who allegedly bit a lady officer when she asked her to wear a mask at Suncity grounds. She was booked and later released.

3,000
No. of migrants packed into buses on Wednesday

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