That image of mass exodus of migrant workers at Delhi’s Anand Vihar Bus terminal is on everyone’s mind. Amid complete lockdown, it came as a shocker for the law enforcement agencies who were looking helpless before this immense assembly of migrants trying to escape to their respective home towns. A result of a serious lacuna on the part of the respective government and law agencies.
What needed was a clear chalked out plan for the stranded and starving migrant workers but we are least bothered for poors in this socialist and democratic country.
Owing to the closure of the factories, shops and construction sites, the labour and workers who migrated to cities in search of work and livelihood are now forced to flee. With most of the landlords denying them shelters, a little help from the Government and policeman hurling “lathis” to them, they have no other option but to leave for their home towns and villages.
Apparently most of the public transport being suspended, these migrants, in the rising temperatures of the approaching summer, were bound to travel on foot to their villages and home towns which in many cases were hundreds of miles away. At least 22 migrants had died while trying to get back home amid lockdown. Pictures of many migrant workers walking day and night with bags on their head and shoulders went viral on social media and other platforms sparked huge outrage. Reports of bus operators overcharging these migrants added fuel to the fire bursting this matter out of proportions.
Activists and opposition parties blamed the Government for mismanagement and lack of planning before the announcement of a four hour notice lockdown. The Supreme Court said that the migrants are forced to flee due to panic created by the lockdown and ordered the Modi administration to file a report to the court, explaining what actions it was taking to alleviate the migrants’ plight.
The Centre is planning to bring back the Indians stranded abroad through a fleet of special flights. The Prime Minister is conducting special meeting with senior officers for this matter. Thousands of Indians were stranded abroad due to the cancellation of all the international flights by the respective Governments in the wake of Corona virus pandemic. Since the ban on international flights that was enforced on 22nd March, the Indians stuck abroad were pressurising the Government to bring them back though they will be asked for a Covid negative certificate before being flown back.
The contrast of the elite travelling by special flights and poor migrant workers travelling by foot wane away the notion of equality, a right guaranteed under the Fundamental Rights to each and every citizens. Migrants travelling miles under scorching sun while the rich flying in a cosy “Dreamliner” explains the way plight of a poor is perceived in our country. What we are comparing here is the rich having adequate bank balances, social security with the poor migrant workers having no jobs, no savings and social security. On top of that, lack of compassion and police brutality speaks for itself. Charity by NGOs is not the solution, it is the State’s duty to take care of the well being of the less privileged. What has been done is just a tiny fraction of what needs to be done.
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