Truck driver hired to take them home to Bihar, Jharkhand leaves them midway

Fifty homeward bound migrants from Mumbai were duped and left stranded in a small village in Madhya Pradesh on Monday morning by the truck driver they had hired for the trip. The workers, on their way to Bihar and Jharkhand, had leftMumbai on Friday.

Saddam Ansari, one of the workers, said they were asked to alight from the truck around 6 a.m. after the driver said he had to go see if there were any checks happening at the border. “He told us the border was barely two to three kilometres and asked us to cross it on foot, leaving us on the highway. We had been travelling for three days and under such circumstances, had no other option but to trust him. We didn’t think that people would dupe us at such a time,” he said.

After waiting for nearly three hours, the workers called the driver, only to find his cell phone switched off. “We are in a very small village of Gaumohi near the town of Mehar in Satna district. We have no money for food or transport. We managed to get some food from a small dhaba,” he said.

The workers later found out that they were nearly 200 km from the border. The local police have also been unable to help and have asked them to take some other truck passing by. To make matters worse, the group has had to face rain in the region and don’t know if they can even walk under such conditions.

Mr. Ansari said he and 29 others are from Bhagalpur district in Bihar, while 20 others are from a neighbouring district in Jharkhand. They all lived around Chedda Nagar in Mumbai and worked in garment units on PL Lokhande Marg. “Our boss said he could no longer pay us, as there was no business. We had begun to run out our savings and the money our families had sent,” he said. The group paid ₹2.14 lakh for the trip and has no money left.

Mr. Ansari said they had submitted an application to get train tickets, but there was no indication that trains to Bihar or Jharkhand would run.

“We even made enquiries in the local police station and were told only trains to U.P. were running and we would be told when train services to Bihar and Jharkhand are started. We didn’t want to run out of money and be stranded in Mumbai, so we took such a drastic step,” he said.

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