On Monday, when it was stated in Parliament that there was no question of compensation as the Union government had no data on migrants who died during the lockdown exodus, detractors dismissed it as a case of political inertia. But critics were less charitable when the government stated in Parliament on Tuesday that the mass movement of migrants, after the country went into lockdown in March, was because of "fake news".
They dubbed it as political amnesia. The Home Ministry was responding to a written question from Trinamool Congress MP Mala Roy on steps taken to protect migrant labourers before the lockdown was announced on March 25, the reasons why thousands of them ended up trudging back home and the number of labourers who died on their return journey. "The migration of large number of migrant workers was triggered by panic created by fake news regarding duration of lockdown, and people, especially migrant labourers, were worried about adequate supply of basic necessities like food, drinking water, health services and shelter," replied Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai. "However, the central government was fully conscious of this, and took all necessary measures to ensure that during the period of the inevitable lockdown, no citizen should be deprived of basic amenities of food, drinking water, medical facilities etc," the minister told Lok Sabha. On migrant deaths, he replied that those details were "not centrally maintained".
Visuals of tens of thousands of workers leaving their homes in the nationwide shutdown were likened by many to the tragic scenes of mass exodus after the Partition of 1947. With no money or food to feed their families, the workers had to often walk hundreds of kilometres. Many died during the ordeal