Ahmedabad: The exodus of Hindi-speaking migrants from Gujarat after attacks on them in several parts of the state showed no signs of abating on Tuesday, as the issue snowballed into a political slugfest involving the BJP, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress(TMC). Police, meanwhile, intensified patrolling in areas near industrial estates and places where migrant workers stay in a bid to instill confidence among the people.
In Vadodara, hundreds of police personnel carried out a flag march in industrial areas which are home to several big and small factories where more than 25,000 migrants worked, police said. The minister of state for home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said a total of 533 people were arrested and 61 cases registered so far. Separately, 7 cases were filed under the Information Technology(IT) Act and 20 people arrested for spreading hate messages on social media, he added.
Hindi-speaking factory workers continued to flee the state by taking trains and buses, which were running jam-packed, according to available accounts. There were also reports of bus fares being raised in view of the increased demand coming in from some places. “Some people came to our area last night and asked me to leave the place immediately and go back to my home state or they will thrash me,” a migrant worker, who did not want to be identified, told reporters at the Ahmedabad railway station.
Shyam Singh Thakur, president of the Uttar Bhartiya Vikas Parishad, an outfit of north Indians in Gujarat, said more than 60,000 Hindi-speaking migrant labourers have fled the state so far. He claimed that people who had decided earlier to leave the state continue to board buses and trains.
Since the rape of a 14-month-old girl in Sabarkantha district on September 28 and the arrest of a labourer hailing from Bihar for the crime, six districts, most of them in north Gujarat, have witnessed sporadic incidents of violence against Hindi-speaking people. In a series of tweets, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani asked whether Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will take action against his party’s “own members who incited violence against the migrants in Gujarat”.
The BJP has been blaming Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor and his outfit Gujarat Kshatriya-Thakor Sena for the outbreak of violence.
“Congress first incites violence against migrants. Congress President tweets to condemn this violence. Does the Congress President not have any shame?” Rupani said in a tweet.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the Congress of instigating violence against the migrants and demanded that Rahul Gandhi expel Alpesh Thakor for his alleged “venomous” speeches to incite locals in attacking outsiders. Alpesh Thakor on his part said targeting of migrants is wrong and he is “totally against it”, refuting the BJP’s allegations against his outfit.