Sudarshan Das (40) had squeezed the last of his resources to book a Rs 1,800 train ticket to Bihar, only to be robbed on his long journey from Nangloi to New Delhi Railway station on Tuesday. He broke down as he watched the lines of passengers dissolve into the station — without his ticket and his bag that had two pairs of clothes. All he was left with is Rs 20 in his pocket.
“My home is in Baka district… my wife is in the ninth month of her pregnancy and will deliver any day. I had come to Delhi three months ago to earn money and go back before my child is born. Instead, there was no work after a month… I was stuck here, with a landlord pressuring me to pay rent. When I found out these trains are leaving, I got my father to take a loan and send me money for the ticket which I booked last night. I took a ride on a tempo from Peeragarhi. As I was getting off, the driver snatched all my belongings from my pocket and drove off with my bag,” he said.
The station was a site of heartbreak for many like Das, as they watched over 4,000 people enter to board the first three special ‘Rajdhani trains’ to return home. They reached the station on hearing that trains were leaving from Tuesday, to find only those with online bookings could board and that tickets were too expensive.
Sunil Tudu and his wife have had their bags packed for a month now — living off support from ashrams and social workers in Paharganj. Learning that trains were running again, they camped early outside the station in the hope of boarding a train to Howrah, West Bengal. They were finally told by officials that tickets were being booked online, and that they did not have enough money to buy them.
The couple were brought to the city barely a month ago by a “contractor”, on an advance payment of Rs 10,000, to work as labourers at a site in Sultanpuri. “We kept that money at home for our son and daughter and came here. We were being offered Rs 100 each per week. But after a few weeks of work, that stopped. The contractor ran away, his phone was unreachable, and we were left on our own,” said Tudu.
Rohit Kumar (18), who walked for three days from Gurgaon, said his only option now was to walk till Anand Vihar ISBT to find other means of transport to his village in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur. “At the station, I saw only well-off people entering and paying thousands of rupees to go home… I have no money to eat, let alone book tickets,” he said.
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