Thousands of migrants defy lockdown in Mumbai, ‘lathi-charged’

The workers squatted on the road demanding transport arrangements to return to their hometowns

Bandra
A large group of migrant workers gather in Bandra, Mumbai | Photo: Twitter

Thousands of migrant workers defied lockdown and gathered in Mumbai’s Bandra on Tuesday (April 14), demanding transport arrangement for them to return to their hometowns. According to a NDTV report, the police had to use batons to disperse the protesting migrants.

This came hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of the lockdown till May 3, in view of the COVID-19 situation in the country. Daily wage workers, especially the migrants, have been rendered jobless ever since the lockdown was imposed, making their life a constant struggle.

Though authorities and NGOs have made arrangements for their food, most of them want to go back to their native places to escape the hardship brought by the sweeping curbs. A police officer said around 1,000 daily wage earners had assembled at the Bandra (West) bus depot, near the railway station, and squatted on the road around 3 pm.

Related news: Locked down, migrant workers are running out of hope

The daily wage earners, who reside on rent in slums in in the nearby Patel Nagri locality, were demanding arrangement of transport facilities so that they can go back to their native towns and villages. They originally hail from states like West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, reported news agency PTI.

One of the labourers, who did not reveal his name, said, NGOs and locals are providing food to migrant workers, but they want to go back to their native states during the lockdown which has badly affected their source of livelihood.

“Now, we don’t want food. We want to go back to our native place. We are not happy with the announcement (extending the lockdown),” he said, with a dejected look on his face.

Related news: Migrant exodus may lead to an explosion of COVID-19 cases

Asadullah Sheikh, who hails from from Malda in West Bengal, said, “We have already spent our savings during the first phase of the lockdown. We have nothing to eat now, we just want to go back at our native place, the government should made arrangements for us.”

Another labourer, Abdul Kayyun, said, “I have been in Mumbai for many years now, but have never seen such a situation. The government should start trains to shift us to our native place.”

Heavy police deployment was made at the protest site to tackle any untoward incident. Personnel from other police stations were also called at the spot to maintain order, said a police officer.

(With inputs from agencies)

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