Migrant people gathered at New Delhi's Anand Vihar bus terminal to go back to their homes during the countrywide lockdown, in New Delhi on Sunday
Migrant people gathered at New Delhi's Anand Vihar bus terminal to go back to their homes during the countrywide lockdown, in New Delhi on Sunday
Photo: ANI

In times of crisis, one's first instinct is to retreat to a place of safety, surrounded by familiar, friendly faces. The spread of the novel coronavirus in India has forced a pan-India lockdown and created a situation of panic.

With #DeclareEmergency and #ArrestKejariwal (unfortunately with the wrong spelling) trending on Twitter, we thought a bit of an explanation might be helpful.

While people are being urged to stay home, and all except essential services have been prohibited from functioning, not everyone has had the luxury of staying safely ensconced in their homes.

Migrant workers have found themselves left without work or any means of returning home. With most public transportation halted until the 14th of April, many have reportedly taken it upon themselves to walk home. Various state governments too have come forward to ferry them homewards.

But the primary aim of the lockdown -- to promote social distancing and to halt the spread of the virus -- appears to have been lost on many.

On Saturday, photos and videos from Delhi showed hundreds of people standing in close proximity to each other as they waited for buses that would take them homewards. The visuals continued to emerge on Sunday too.

In a scene reminiscent of the pre-coronavirus days, a huge number of migrant workers gathered to board buses, even as the police attempted to distance them. Many were spotted without masks.

According to a tweet by BJP leader Kapil Mishra alleging that Kejriwal had failed Delhi, there were "millions of people"' gathering for these buses.

Netizens were not happy with the Delhi CM and called for punitive action against him.

"This @ArvindKejriwal Is a Monster Reincarnation of Hitler. The way Hitler hoarded out Jews out of their ghatto to Gas Chamber, this #ArrestKejariwal pushed out UP Bihar Migrants from Delhi to Die in Mass" wrote one outraged Twitter user.

The gas chamber comparisons seem to have been favoured by many on Twitter.

"Kejriwal, the selfish person who is trying to make the delhi a gas chamber.. #DeclareEmergency" wrote another user.

"What Kejriwal did in Delhi is a planned criminal conspiracy against India. Last night an announcement was made and people were woken up to catch a bus and taken to Anand Vihar. Kejriwal does not want to give them food and shelter. #ArrestKejariwal." said a third.

Some of the migrants have since arrived at Uttar Pradesh and were thermally scanned and stamped to indicate the same before being allowed to board buses to reach their destinations.

In the meantime, the AAP government in Delhi is facing flak owing to a tweet by MLA Raghav Chadha were he had claimed that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was "getting migrants going from Delhi to UP beaten up".

The tweet was deleted later after being called out by Adityanath’s media advisor, Mrityunjay Kumar.

As for why #DeclareEmergency is trending on Twitter, well the reasons seem to be manifold. Some want an emergency declared in Delhi, while others are alarming at the rising number of coronavirus cases in India. There are also others who appear to use trending hashtags irrespective of what they might actually mean.

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