The Virus Trains: How Lockdown Chaos Spread Kovid-19Scross India

Railway officials also stressed that trains are the safest way to take migrant workers home.

“India has made an extraordinary improvement in managing the spread of the disease compared to some of the most advanced countries in the world,” said DJ Narayan, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Railways.

In total, the government held 4,621 labor specials, transferring over 6 million people. When they came out of the cities of India, which were becoming hot spots, many of the returners pulled the virus with them, yet they kept coming. Surat, an industrial hub, saw more than half a million workers on trains.

“It felt like a doom,” said Ram Singhasan, a ticket collector. “When you saw how many people were outside, it seemed that the end of the world was coming.”

On March 24, at 8 pm, Mr. Modi hit the lockdown switch. In a television address, he ordered the entire country to stay inside their homes for three weeks – starting in four hours.

The decision was pure Modi: abrupt, dramatic and convincing, as when he abruptly wiped out nearly 90 percent of India’s currency bill in 2016, he said a bluish measure to fight corruption said He is financially destructive.

Prafulla and Ravindra Behera served a dinner of rice, lentils and potatoes, their usual fare. They lived in sleeveless, bare rooms in the industrial area of ​​Surat, building a wall to sleep on the floor with half a dozen other laborers. Within minutes of Mr. Modi’s address, he received calls.

Ravindra said, “Everyone was thinking the same: it will be over soon and somehow we will spend the day.”

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