Migrants who returned from Jaipur by Shramik Special train Danapur railway station India
Migrants who returned from Jaipur by Shramik Special train stand in a queue to board the bus towards their native places at Danapur railway station, during a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, in Patna on Saturday. Image Credit: ANI

Hundreds of Indian migrant workers who thought they were travelling from Mumbai, to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, ended up in Odisha’s Rourkela city instead, after a Shramik Special [hyperlink] train they were travelling by, took a different route on Friday.

According to Indian media reports, the special train had left from Bhayander in Mumbai on Thursday.

A Twitter video shows one of the passengers saying that he wanted to travel to Kanpur, so he got on the Gorakhpur train. “We now realised that the train has reached Rourkela…. The train is taking a long route. We have no idea when the train will reach Gorakhpur,” he said.

Some passengers reportedly said that officials present in Rourkela told them that the driver lost his way due to confusion. However, Indian Railways, India's national railway system reportedly said it had intentionally changed the route.

“We have decided to run a few of the Shramik trains on diverted routes,” an official said, according to a news report. “Some trains were diverted for Bihar via Rourkela to clear congestion,” the official added.

But, it is not clear why the passengers were not informed that the route had been changed. It was last reported that they have also not received any update on when the train would leave for Gorakhpur.

Social media users criticised Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of Railways and Commerce and Industry, for the incident.

Tweep @Joydas wrote: “A train with migrants that left from Vasai Road in Maharashtra to Gorakhpur In UP, lost its way and reached Rourkela in Odisha. Much respect for @PiyushGoyal. He is letting people tour different states without paying extra for it.”

It took the Indian government more than a month, after India's lockdown was announced, to finally arrange for trains and buses to help stranded migrant workers. Migrant workers prior to that, made their way back to their villages on foot.

Reportedly, the Indian Railways has operated over 2,000 “Shramik Special” trains since May 1 and 2,600 more are set to run in the next 10 days. India's lockdown has been extended till May 31.