Published: 16th May 2020
Malayali students threaten to walk 2,600 km from Delhi to their homes in Kerala, if no special train is arranged
Around 300 students will apparently start a 2,600 kilometre-long-journey on foot in the next couple of days if the Kerala government fails to arrange a special train
Since the beginning of the nationwide lockdown on March 25, we have been reading stories about migrant labourers walking hundreds of kilometres to go home. Unemployed, broke, hungry and ill, a lot of them did not make it to their destination, succumbing to illness and hunger. While the country is gearing up to ease out of the lockdown, around 300 students studying at various colleges in Delhi are threatening to walk a distance of approximately 2,560 kilometres, from Delhi to their homes in Kerala - because they've not been given a special train to return home.
The Keralite students, who claim to be on the verge of being evicted from their hostels and rented accommodations, say that they will start their journey from Monday if the Kerala government fails to arrange a special shramik train for them. "We have been demanding that the Kerala government arrange for a non-stop special train for a long time now. A lot of students have already been asked to vacate their hostels. A lot of them have no money to pay rent or sustain. They have nowhere to go apart from their homes. If we do not get proper intimation about the train, we will start walking to Kerala," says Sneha Shaji, NSUI National Coordinator. This student of Delhi University adds that while the students were promised a special train last week, it was cancelled in the last minute. "Following this, a lot of students had to board the passenger trains which stopped at a lot of COVID Hotspots along the way. Also, no social distancing norms were followed inside these trains," she says. There were also allegations that the tickets for these trains were expensive than usual.
However, on May 15, while addressing the media, the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that the stranded Malayali students in Delhi will be brought home by special non-AC trains. "We hope the government keeps its promise at least this time. We have been waiting for these trains since the beginning of this month. If this gets cancelled, we will have no other option than walking home," says Sakeer Husain, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia. "This is obviously a harsh measure. It is a long walk and there will be a lot of turbulence ahead. We are also at the risk of contracting the virus en route. But this looks like our only hope now," he says.