Daily wage workers have been rendered jobless ever since the lockdown was announced late last month, making their life a constant struggle.
With expectations they may be allowed to head back home belied, a large number of migrants came out on the road on Tuesday, demanding transport arrangement hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 3.
According to a Mumbai police spokesperson, some 1,500 migrants assembled at suburban Bandra (West) bus depot near the railway station around 3 pm. Some turned aggressive, and the police had to use mild force to disperse the gathering, said DCP and spokesperson Pranaya Ashok.
State tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray, who is also chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s son blamed the Centre for the protest by the migrants and sought a road map to facilitate their journey back to their native places. In a series of tweets, Aaditya said, “The current situation in Bandra, now dispersed or even the rioting in Surat is a result of the Union government not being able to take a call on arranging a way back home migrant labour. They don’t want food or shelter, they want to go back home,” he said.
Daily wage workers have been rendered jobless ever since the lockdown was announced late last month, making their life a constant struggle. Though authorities and NGOs have made arrangements for their food, most want to go back to their native places to escape the hardship brought by the sweeping curbs.
Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh too said lakhs of workers from other states who work in Mumbai expected the PM to open the state borders. “They felt they could go to their home states. But the PM and the CM took a very good decision to extend the lockdown. The state borders will remain sealed. Permission will not be given to go to other states from Maharashtra,” he said.
While the state said they assured migrants would be taken care of, Asadullah Sheikh, who hails 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.”
Heavy police deployment was made at the protest site to tackle any untoward incident. Personnel from other police stations were called at the spot to maintain order, a senior police official said.