“Where are they? I will hold back the train,” declared Collector S. Prabhakar, when he was alerted about the 10 migrant workers, who were unaware of the waiting Orissa-bound train carrying migrant workers home, here on Friday evening.
A train filled with 1,600 migrant workers to Orissa waited for over 30 minutes for the last worker to arrive, after a series of nail-biting and tense moments culminated in a happy send-off to them at Hosur station late Friday evening.
A day after the first train to UP was seen off on Thursday, the second train that was Orissa-bound was punctuated by nerve-wracking moments, when the officials were made aware that some workers were left out. Only that the train that was already full, was set to leave any time.
On Thursday night at 11 p.m, officials had received information about the incoming train to Orissa. Officials, overworked with back to back trains, had set out to work through the night along with the volunteers of the Muslim community, making calls to the workers alerting them of the train. However, in the melee, a few of the workers were missed out.
When The Hindu got information of the train at the 11th hour on Friday evening, the information was cross-verified with Democratic Youth Federation of India volunteers, who were also coordinating with migrant workers from Orissa. However, those volunteers too, whilst receiving anxious calls from about 10 workers asking about the schedule of the Orissa train, were unaware of the train already waiting at Hosur station, and almost full. The train was waiting for 24 workers to arrive from Dharmapuri by a bus before it left.
It was at that point, The Hindu alerted Dr. Prabhakar. He immediately called to ask where were the workers and that he would ask the train to wait. “I will hold back the train. Ask them to come. The train will wait for them,” declared the Collector over phone.
In the minutes that followed, the entire revenue administration and the dedicated group of volunteers coordinated with each other, and held back the train, while the DYFI volunteer Vignesh stayed in touch with the workers to guide their pick-up points.
However, the wait was burdened by anxious moments, when some of the workers were unreacheable, and also there was no mode of conveyance for the workers at the last minute. In its wake, Abdul Bari, one of the coordinators of COVID relief work by the Muslim community arranged for vehicles that would go fetch the workers from the common point in Zuzvadi.
The workers were finally brought to the station in break-neck speed, provided food packets before they were boarded into the coach. As the train rolled out of the platform at half past 7, the volunteers and the officials, with heart in the mouth, heaved with relief, looking at those smiling faces.