First special train with 1,000 returnees reaches Udhampur
Jammu: A special train from Bengaluru carrying nearly 1,000 passengers reached Udhampur on Tuesday, marking the beginning of the return of Jammu and Kashmir residents stranded outside the Union Territory by rail.
Earlier, 40,000 residents were transported by road via Lakhanpur – the gateway to the UT bordering Punjab.
The train reached Udhampur at 11.30 am after a delay of several hours and the passengers, including students and labourers, deboarded it as per the guidelines and moved to an identified holding area before being sent to their home districts in buses.
The special train, which had left Chikkabanavara station in Bengaluru on Sunday afternoon, was the first passenger rail service in Jammu and Kashmir during the lockdown in effect since March 25.
Udhampur District Development Commissioner Piyush Singla said another train with 1,100 passengers is to reach here from Goa on Tuesday.
Singla, who received the passengers, said the district administration had deployed magistrates and other officials to receive the passengers at the platform and guide them for online registration through an app.
The returnees were provided packaged meals and water bottles for the journey to their home districts with police escort.
Officials said all the returnees have to be tested for COVID-19 and undergo administrative quarantine without exception. “Only if the tests come negative, can they be sent for home quarantine for 14 days,” one of the officials said.
The J&K government has collected details of stranded persons who wish to return. Arrangements are being made for their arrival in an orderly manner, the officials said.
The stranded persons from the States and UTs of Haryana, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh and Delhi have also been permitted to return in a regulated manner, with effect from May 7 and this process will continue for a week, they said.
They said the evacuation was started after the Ministry of Home Affairs on April 29 allowed movement of stranded persons with certain conditions.