Kolkata/Kharagpur/Suri: The railways and Bengal police on Sunday stopped train movement in the Kharagpur-Balasore division for half-an-hour to rescue 19 migrant labourers who were walking home to Bengal from Odisha along the tracks.
These migrants , headed to their north Bengal homes, were taken off the tracks between Jaleswar and Halipada stations and taken to Kharagpur station, where they were provided food and shelter.
The Bengal government is medically screening all 19 and making arrangements to take them home in government buses.
Another group of 26 people was similarly traced near Kharagpur station while trying to enter the state from Odisha. They were handed over to the local administration. West Midnapore SP Dinesh Kumar said: “We have spoken to the Odisha police on this. Arrangements are being made to send them home.”
South Eastern Railway CPRO Sanjoy Ghosh said: “Whenever such incidents are reported, train movements are stopped till track clearances are provided by field officers. In this case, railways and the local administration intervened and ensured their well-being.”
Authorities are on alert since 16 migrants labourers were run over by a goods train in Maharashtra on Friday while taking a break from walking home to MP.
With a view to preventing further such accidents, the Birbhum police on Sunday wrote to the railways seeking prior intimation on train movement through the district. On Friday, as many as 20 migrant labourers escaped a tragedy when an alert inspection van driver stopped the train on spotting them walking on tracks near Nalhati.
Birbhum SP Shyam Singh said: “Mobile patrolling has been intensified across rail tracks.”
According to DGP (Railways) Adhir Sharma: “In the last couple of days, we have found people, mainly from Bihar and Jharkhand, streaming into the state. So checking has been increased in Rampur, Asansol, Kharagpur and Siliguri divisions.”
“We have sympathy for these tired workers, who are trying to walk all the way home. We are working in close coordination with railways and local administration, and providing all assistance to these workers,” he added.
On Saturday evening, for instance, 42 workers were rescued from Balurghat under Siliguri subdivision. “Coming from Jharkhand, they were headed to South Dinajpur. They were traced near the national highway, detained by railway staff and handed over to the district administration. They need to go through the medical protocol before they can enter the state,” a senior railway official said.
Similar incidents were also reported from Asansol and Rampurhat.
On Saturday, home secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay had said that “many tired labourers are coming on foot. They are coming to our border and we, after fulfilling the medical protocol, are sending them to their districts”.