Migrant workers leave Bengaluru in droves as lockdown restrictions begin

Hundreds of workers were seen waiting for trains in Yeshwantpur and Majestic Railway Stations as Karnataka's lockdown began Tuesday night.
Yeshwantpur station in Bengaluru
Yeshwantpur station in Bengaluru

Shabeer, a 25-year-old migrant worker in Tumakuru, reached the Yeshwantpur Railway on Tuesday night after watching on the news that there will be restrictions in Karnataka for the next two weeks. "Our train is in the afternoon tomorrow but we came here today morning after we heard on the news that bakeries will be closed," says Shabeer. He works at a bakery in Gubbi in Tumakuru district and his employer told him that the shop will be closed for two weeks. He is now heading back to his hometown in Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.

He was among hundreds of workers to make a dash for the railway station in Yeshwantpur to board the train back to their hometowns. 

Many like Shabeer said that they reached the station early on Tuesday morning even though their trains leave the station only on Wednesday afternoon. Many were seen camping at the station for the night.  

Suraj, a carpenter from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, was also among the people leaving the city. "I stayed here in the first lockdown last year and I had problems with my stay and with arranging food. So I want to go home now since my work has stopped. I will work on a farm back home," says Suraj. He works with a contractor in Bengaluru. 

With the lockdown restrictions coming into effect in Bengaluru at 9 pm on Tuesday night, a rush was reported in railway stations and bus stations in Bengaluru with large numbers of migrant workers leaving the city. A similar rush was reported in the Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna (Majestic) Railway station at the centre of the city where long lines of migrant workers were reported boarding the evening train to New Delhi. Here too, many people were seen camping at the railway station waiting for their trains. 

Earlier in the day, groups of workers were also seen at the Majestic Bus Stand leaving Bengaluru for nearby areas within the state and in neighboring states. The KSRTC operated 500 extra buses on Tuesday. In total, more than 12,000 buses were operated to help people return to their hometowns before the restrictions came in place.  

Karnataka's lockdown restrictions kicked in at 9 pm on Tuesday night. It will be in place till 6 am on 12 May and interstate travel will be restricted to emergencies. However, flights and trains will continue as per schedule, and travel tickets will serve as movement passes for people. 

The lockdown measures were announced on Monday after a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state. Karnataka reported over 31,000 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. 

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