West Bengal government refuses to accept immigrants from Maharashtra, but UP descends

MUMBAI: Refused on Tuesday, even as the state government waited for its consent to send 2,400 workers on two trains from Thane to Shalimar station in Howrah. Meanwhile, concerned about a backlash, the group dropped its previous reluctance to evacuate its migrants from Mumbai, Thane and Pune, authorities said. The Bihar government withdrew its blanket from Maharashtra and said it will decide on a case-by-case basis.

WB's stance was a shock to the state government, which had been waiting all day for approval. The migrants had been identified but no one had been issued tickets or taken to the railway station.

“West Bengal had been very uncommunicative, but the rejection was unexpected. No reason was given, said a senior official.

By Tuesday, the UP government had backed down from its position vis-à-vis the migrants from Maharashtra. This occurred a day after Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik revealed that the UP government was not interested in evacuating its migrants from Mumbai, Pune and Thane, and insisted on a Covid test for passengers.

The UP government has now agreed to follow the Center's guidelines that passengers must be medically screened for symptoms and that permission must be obtained from the destination state, a senior bureaucrat said.

Authorities said the UP government reacted to reports that its migrants in the city were upset with their home state. It is good that the minister has revealed why UP immigrants were not sent home. Otherwise, they would have blamed the Maharashtra government, said a senior official.

However, the Bihar government, which had initially given general approval for migrants from the state, has said it will now decide on a case-by-case basis. The Karnataka government remains firm in its stance not to evacuate its migrants from Maharashtra.

On the other hand, Odisha joined Rajasthan and West Bengal to give general approval for the evacuation of their Maharashtra migrants.

State officials have said that shramik trains are unlikely to start from Mumbai and Pune soon. The interior ministry has reservations about starting trains from these areas, a senior official said.

Five special shramik trains left the state on Tuesday. There were two exits from Kalyan, one to Bihar and the other to Andhra Pradesh. Another train left Panvel for Madhya Pradesh. And two more trains left from Nandurbar, in the north of Maharashtra, to Darbhanga and Saharsa in Bihar. Two trains carrying migrants belonging to Maharashtra from Andhra Pradesh arrived in Chandrapur and Gadchiroli, officials said.

100 private buses leave the state, get a special exemption on road tax

Some 100 private buses have left the state since Monday, transporting 2,500 migrants to Gujarat, Rajasthan, Kerala, UP, Karnataka and Telengana. Operators have been allowed a special exemption on road tax when crossing the border into another state. The tax would have ranged from Rs 7,500 to Rs 25,000. With the exemption, tickets are expected to be reduced by Rs 200 to Rs 500.

Meanwhile, the avalanche of applications continued at police stations, and the resulting chaos added to the anguish of migrants, many of whom are running out of money and food. Massive queues were seen at police stations and at doctors' clinics where migrants lined up to obtain medical certificates as part of the application.

The first day they told us to get a medical certificate. When we went to send it, the police said we had to fix a photograph and have the doctor stamp it too, ”said a furious Altaf Khan of Khairani Road in Andheri. So we had to wait hours outside the doctor's clinic a second time, he said.

Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam criticized Mumbai police and tweeted: “After being in a queue all day, migrant citizens receive a message from the police station. He says that if his name is on the list, collect 1,020 rupees per night. That's the train and bus fare. It is not weird? However, police said they were sending reminders to migrants because many arrive at the station penniless and expect the police or railways to pay the ticket.

Many, like the immigrant Rajasthani Ganpat Bansiwal, have realized that it is useless to request the trip back home. “I only have 500 rupees left. How can I buy tickets for six of us, even if my request is accepted? I ask.

(With contributions by S Ahmed Ali and Somit Sen)