Following in the steps of a group of his colleagues who set off to Mumbai from Ratnagiri on foot, Gopal Singh, 31, too did the same, accompanied by five other coworkers.
Despite the government's nod for the intra-state travel, Singh and five others, employed in the textile industry in Nashik, found themselves stranded. A resident of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, Singh was forced to stay indoors since the lockdown began on March 25. Without any earnings, the past two months have been a living hell for him and the others.
Earlier, some of Gopal's colleagues had decided to walk towards Mumbai, from where they could catch a passenger train to Gorakhpur. Singh also decided to follow suit, setting off early on Tuesday.
However, in the early hours of Wednesday, he was stopped near Kasara by state police officers, who urged them to go back or face strict action.
"We were stopped somewhere near Kasara by some policemen. They asked where we were headed. After hearing us out, they asked us to return because there was this cyclone coming" said Singh told The Free Press Journal.
"Our efforts to convince them were in vain. So we decided to go back," he said.
So they turned back and took refuge in a hut, where they decided to wait out the storm, after which they said they would continue their onward trek.
"We won't t be able to board the train today (Wednesday). Once the weather conditions improve, we will set off for Mumbai. Having come so far, we cannot call it quits now," said a determined Singh.
Like Singh and his group, workers travelling from various parts of the state to Mumbai found themselves in a similar predicament.
Taraknath Das, a daily wager from Assam's Dibrugarh was stopped by police near Navi Mumbai, as he was walking towards Bandra Terminus to board a train in the early hours of Wednesday.
"We were stopped by police and they asked us to not go ahead, as a cyclone was on its way," said Das.
"However, we are waiting for the weather to return to normal and hope we can make it to the train station in time," he said.
Meanwhile, the Central Railway has staggered the departure of almost all the special passenger trains by 10 hours. This has come as a sigh of relief to some workers. But now, they are apprehensive that in case they fail to reach the station within the stipulated time, they will miss the train.
"Getting a confirmed ticket is difficult at this time. However, hopefully, if the weather returns to normal, we may reach the station in time. Otherwise, it will only aggravate our misery," worries Das.
"The railways must consider rescheduling tickets in case we fail to reach on time. We got confirmed tickets with great difficulty. Now, if we miss the train, I don't know when we will ever reach home," another labourer said, in desperation.
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