Medical booth at Central, helpline reassure those from northeast
21-year-old Balram was at the Central station on Sunday night, waiting eagerly for his train to Guwahati at 11. 40 p.m. He had come on Thursday too, but the whole jostling and fight to get inside had unnerved him. “I had a fracture only last week. That day, I thought I will lose my arm,” he says.
Many of those who rushed to the Central station in the last three days, hoping to get into one of the four trains going to Guwahati, had it difficult with the medical centre at the station recording at least 38 cases of injury. Many of these were due to laceration, incision, bleeding and suffocation. The special medical booth was set up by the directorate of health and southern Railways to heed to the requirements of these migrants on Saturday. “Many smaller injuries have also been reported. But, since everybody was in such a hurry, we had to make sure everyone was sent in a queue,” said an RPF official.
Balram however feels the situation would have been much better had the stall come up on Thursday itself. “There were 3,000 people travelling in the coaches meant for only a 1,000. There was a lot of panic. Some people hurt their fingers in the shutters due to the congestion, some travelled on the footboard and also got injured” he says.
One of the labourers Nazarath (20) was taken to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital after he fainted due to suffocation. “The cases of fracture were sent to the railway hospital in Perambur,” said V. Shanmugan, core officer, St. John Ambulance Brigade. “We had to tell some people not to leave then, and take the next train. We had to make arrangements to get their tickets cancelled and help them get new ones,” he added.
Over 1,700 migrants left by the four trains on Saturday and Sunday – Dhanbad Express, Guwahati Express, Coromandel Express and Tiruchy- Howrah. “There were many women and around 20 children too. So we had to take special care in the morning,” said an RPF official. On Sunday, three compartments were pressed into service to accommodate 800 more passengers.
On Sunday, among those crowding at the station, were workers who had waited for their salaries that came on Saturday. “Companies have also promised us that we will retain our jobs, if we come back after a month,” said Bhairav, from Golaghat, in Assam, who left along with 40 friends.
While the exodus of persons from the northeast is still on, the number of calls to the special control room seems to be dwindling day by day.
The police formed a special control room with three helpline numbers – 9840295100, 9677066100, and 9789088100 – to assist the migrants. A total of five police personnel including a sub-inspector from Central Crime Branch (CCB) have been posted to manage the control room.
“The help lines began from 7 p.m on Friday. On the first day, we got 93 calls. On Saturday we received 30 calls and on Sunday till evening, only nine people called,” said J. Ramani, a head constable.
“The callers said they will have to leave the city as they were concerned about their parents. Some of them were concerned whether there will be some problem in the city. We assured them that the Chennai City Police will ensure that they are safe. They sounded satisfied,” said Mr.Ramani.