Medha Navya Dwivedi
After the imposition of the national lockdown due to the spread of covid-19, migrant workers in areas like Mumbai and Delhi were left with no means to earn a living and started marching to their far flung villages on foot. The crisis reached its peak on Saturday when chaos, crisis and stampede-like situation prevailed at Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, when the Uttar Pradesh Government announced that it had arranged 1000 buses to ferry migrant labourers struck at the border districts on the State. ‘Social distancing’ and boundaries were thrown into the air as they squeezed into the buses. Some people wore masks but most of them had a handkerchief tied over their faces to prevent the infection.
Political blame game over the crisis
The BJP on Saturday attacked the AAP government over the migrant outflow. “Migrant workers tell on camera that they were told that buses will be there at Anand Vihar. DTC buses drop them to Anand Vihar. Some forces want India to fail when India fights corona. Nation will not forgive them,” BJP general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santhosh said. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused the BJP of doing “petty politics” over the coronavirus pandemic. The sharp reaction from Sisodia came after reports that a huge crowd of migrant workers were at the Anand Vihar area, bordering Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, to catch buses to their home states.
Maharashtra Government’s reaction to the migrant crisis
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asked migrant workers not to leave the state. Thousands of migrant labourers are trying to return home by any means they can find ever since lockdown was imposed across the country to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Thackeray, in a televised address, assured migrant labourers that the state government will take care of their food and accomodation needs as well as their well-being.
Rajasthan Government’s crisis
Rajasthan Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas told media that roadways buses will be pressed into service to transport migrant workers and their families stranded in the state due to the country-wide lockdown to check the spread of coronavirus. He said people from other states who have entered Rajasthan need to be taken to their destination so that there is no risk of COVID-19 infection.
Bihar Government’s reaction
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said sending stranded migrant workers to their home states would defeat the purpose of the lockdown and could increase the spread of the coronavirus. He said a better course of action would be to provide food and shelter to such people, wherever they are, by setting up special camps. Kumar ordered officials to set up relief camps in districts in Bihar that share borders with adjoining states like Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, and also Nepal.