On Tuesday, the nation outraged after hundreds of migrant labourers gathered in large numbers at Bandra station after a false news report said that trains were running.
While this news has been running, it appears that the Uttar Pradesh government violated rules a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown extension till May 3.
Here’s what we know so far:
- Around 900 pilgrims – mostly from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala – had made a trip to Varanasi before the Centre issued the three-week lockdown and Janta curfew
- According to Kushal Raj Sharma, the district magistrate of Varanasi, the stranded people, which he says are 700-800 and not 900, had approached their respective MPs, as well as the Centre for clearance to go back home
- The cost of the bus ticket to go back home was around Rs 4,000. Those who could not afford this were asked to stay back in ashrams in Varanasi
- The district magistrate added that all the passengers were put through screening, adding that RTPCR test (the test usually done for coronavirus) was not necessary, as all the individuals displayed any of the symptoms
- All the pilgrims have reached home, and have been advised another 3-4 days of quarantine.
On Tuesday afternoon, over 1,000 labourers gathered outside Bandra station demanding transport arrangements to go back to their native places. Most of them also complained of having no food. Similarly, hundreds of migrant workers protested in Surat's Varachha area on Tuesday evening, demanding they be sent home. This was the second time within four days that Surat witnessed protests by migrant labourers. On April 10, as many as 80 migrants were arrested for going on a rampage and setting on fire several vegetable carts.
This lockdown has become a cause for anxiety, hunger and restlessness for them. In fact, if the lockdown continues, such flare-ups maybe on the cards considering the uncertainty, frustration and helplessness of our unorganized labour force.
The following day, video images come from Domkal area of Murshidabad where hundreds of labourers came in large numbers to demand food items, as they have been stuck for 25 days. “No arrangement has been made for us,” one of the labourers alleged.
Earlier on Wednesday, The Bombay High Court on Wednesday voiced its concern over the problems faced by thousands of migrant labourers stranded in various parts of the state, particularly in Mumbai. The High Court has suggested that the government allow at least intra-state labourers to move to their native places in Maharashtra, which would ease the burden on the administration.
A bench of Justice Ravi Deshpande, however, clarified that these labourers must be sent back home only after they are medically examined. “Before permitting the intra-state migrants to travel to their destinations or homes, medical examinations should be conducted so that the dreaded disease does not spread in the rural areas, which presently remains unaffected."