A large number of migrant workers in Gujarat’s Surat came out on the streets on Friday, 10 April, demanding their wages and asking for permission to return to their native homes. These labourers were left stranded after a nationwide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to curb the spread of COVID-19.
According to local reporters, some vegetable carts were torched and policemen resorted to lathicharge, as the number of migrant workers on the streets swelled on Friday evening.
DCP Surat Rakesh Barot said, “The incident happened around 7-7:30 pm. When the police arrived, some people from the crowd pelted stones. Their primary demand is to return to their native homes. To control the situation, the police detained about 60-70 people.”
Surat MLA Harsh Sanghavi took to Twitter and said, "Surat is providing food to more than 5 lakhs needy people every day. In such condition their demand of getting permission to go to native villages is not possible at all. Surat is committed to provide food to each citizen in city (sic)."
Similar chaos was witnessed in Surat on 30 March when nearly 500 migrant workers had come out on the roads demanding transportation facilities to reach their native places.
“When the police were trying to convince them to remain indoors, they started pelting stones at the security personnel. Several police vehicles were damaged in the stone-pelting," Deputy Commissioner of Police Vidhi Chaudhari had said.
At least 93 of the labourers were arrested for defying the nationwide lockdown and attacking police.
(With inputs from Manish in Surat.)