“Where else will I go? I have no money to go anywhere in this big city.”
Sahib Rao, a farmer from the city of Amravati in Maharashtra, travelled all the way to Mumbai for the treatment of his uncle, Yogesh Kurhekar, who is suffering from second-stage bone cancer. The doctors at Tata Memorial Hospital have asked him to wait for a day in Mumbai.
Rao laments, “Doctors have told us to wait for the night, but we have nowhere to go.”
With no shelter and not enough money, Rao and his uncle have to spend the night at Dadar railway station.
There are many like Sahib who are forced to take shelter on platforms across railway stations in Mumbai.
The Central Railways declared all platforms of Mumbai railway stations ‘no-sleep zones’ in an attempt to curb crimes and decongest the railway stations, according to Mumbai Mirror. Railway officials justify this step as a measure to drive out unauthorised persons and prevent them from using station amenities.
According to officials, this step has produced positive results in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), with a 50 percent drop in crime rate, according to Mumbai Mirror.
But when the homeless are lathi-charged out of the station, where are they supposed to go? The Quint visited three prominent railway stations of Mumbai – in Dadar, Kurla and Mumbai Central – to hear the stories of the people who call these stations their home.
‘The Station is Our Home’
Ismail and Aman sell colouring books for a living. Every night is a new station, a new home.
“We have spent nights at different stations – Vashi, Kurla, CSMT. Once we were sent to jail also for sleeping on the platform but our aunty got us out of jail. Our teachers removed us from school because we didn’t study well.”Ismail and Aman
‘My Husband Kicked Me Out, I Am Waiting Here to Go Home’
Another woman, who refused to identify herself, said she was left with no choice but to take shelter on the platform of Dadar station, after her husband drove her out of their home.
“My husband left me and now I don’t know what to do. I slept in this station last night, but tonight I will catch the Howrah Express train and leave for my village. These ladies have been giving me company since morning.”
‘We Have No Relatives in The City’
Sunil has already slept one night at CSMT railway station. Friday will be the second night he will have to spend on the platform.
A few months ago, his wife Kalpana underwent an operation on her left leg. She cannot walk without help.
“It’s raining so heavily, and we have no relatives in this city. The doctor has asked us to wait for another day. If the police kicks us out, where can I take my wife, who can’t even walk properly?”Sunil Upade
These are just a few voices of the many that go unheard, unnoticed everyday. While the intent of this measure taken by the officials is to reduce the crime rate and congestion at railway stations, they cannot implement it without considering the plight of the homeless.