Thousands of migrant labourers bound for Bihar gathered outside Mumbai's Bandra Terminus today, hoping to catch a special train to the state. But most of them were sent back by the police. Only the registered people were allowed to board the train, their number a fraction of those who came. Dramatic visuals from outside the station showed the people, carrying their meager possessions streaming through the roads, jamming traffic.
At Mumbai CSMT, the main train station in the city, a kilometre-long queues were seen again as migrant labourers waited to board trains leaving the station for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The lines have remained a constant since Friday.
According to sources, Western Railway has transported over 7 lakh people from Gujarat and Maharashtra. Central Railway has transported around three lakh people from Mumbai itself in 175 trains.
Over the last weeks, Mumbai -- the city of dreams that has been drawing people from across the country for decades -- has been witnessing a reverse migration. Thousands have registered to go home by the special trains being run by the Centre. Others have been taking buses, illegal trucks and even walking.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray yesterday said around 5 lakh migrant labourers have already left the state by trains and buses. In absence of the migrants, he even asked the locals to pitch in for the 50,000 industries which were given permission to re-open yesterday.
The Chief Minister said the state has been taking "good care" of the migrant labourers. "We provided three meals to around 6.5 lakh migrants, but many wanted to go home. And we made provision for that. Already at least 5lakh migrants have been sent to their states by buses and trains," he said.
Still, more are on their way out. Last week, huge snaking queues were seen outside the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the city's biggest railway station.
The workers who gathered at the Bandra terminus this morning wanted to board a "Shramik Special" train to Bihar. The police said only the people who had registered themselves --around 1000 -- were allowed to board. The rest were told to go home.
The Bandra terminus has often seen such huge gatherings, mostly by people who live in the slums across the road.
Last month, long before the special trains for labourers were started, hordes of migrant workers gathered outside the station hoping to go back home after they heard rumours about trains running. Video footage from the area showed thousands of people jostling, giving a go by to government warnings about coronavirus and social distancing.
Mumbai has had more than 20,000 cases of coronavirus -- the highest in any city. The state government has refused to allow any relaxation in restrictions in view of the large numbers.