The Mumbai police on Tuesday, 14 April, resorted to lathi-charging thousands of migrant labourers who gathered outside Bandra station, hoping to return home to their respective states once the lockdown had been lifted, but were left upset when they found out that the date had only been pushed further.
The labourers began gathering outside the station hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the nationwide lockdown had been extended till 3 May.
In viral videos, police were seen using canes to disperse the migrants, who had gathered near the Bandra railway station in suburban Mumbai.
Sources told The Quint that while the police initially tried to calm the gathering by offering them ration, a few people from the crowd allegedly turned hostile. The Mumbai police then used lathi-charge. The crowd finally dispersed at around 6 pm.
An case has been registered at Bandra Police station under relevant sections of the IPC against 800-1000 unknown accused, sources said.
Sena Blames Centre
State minister and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray took to Twitter to blame the central government for the migrant worker crisis.
“Right from the day the trains have been shut down, the state had requested trains to run for 24 hours more so that migrant labourers could go back home. CM Uddhav Thackeray ji raised this issue in the PM-CM video conference as well requesting a roadmap for migrant labour to reach home (sic),” he further said.
‘Workers Might Have Expected PM Would Open Borders’: Maha Home Minister
Maharashtra Home minister Anil Deshmukh said that the hundreds of migrant workers who gathered outside Bandra railway station might have expected that Prime Minister Modi would order reopening of state borders.
“We have assured them that the state government will arrange facilities for stay and food, and the situation is under control now.”Deshmukh told Marathi news channel ABP Majha
Migrant labourers across the country have arguable been the worst hit due to the coronavirus crisis. With Indian Railways completely shutting down operations before the lockdown was announced, lakhs of labourers were forced to walk back hundreds of kilometers to reach their home states.
HM Shah Speaks to Thackeray, Expresses Concern
Union Home Minister Amit Shah called up Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and expressed concern over the gathering of a large number of people in Mumbai's Bandra area in defiance of the ongoing lockdown, officials said.
Shah stressed that such events weaken India’s fight against the novel coronavirus and the administration needs to stay vigilant to avoid such incidents.
“The home minister spoke to the Maharashtra chief minister and expressed concern over the large gathering of people in Mumbai's Bandra area,” a home ministry official said.
Shah also offered his full support to the Maharashtra government in dealing with the situation, the official said.
‘State Govt Shrugging off Responsibility’
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis hit out at the Uddhav Thackeray led government claiming that the Maharashtra government is shrugging off responsibility from its own shoulders and blaming the Centre.
The BJP leader tweeted, “#BandraStation incident is shocking and shameful. We have been demanding to arrange for ration and food since so many days to ration card holders and also to the people who do not have ration cards (sic).”
He further added that if the trains begin operating again, the very purpose of social distancing will be defeated.
“So, proper arrangements locally is the only solution at present. But since such arrangements haven’t being made, and we have been repeatedly requesting the same to the state government, but in vain. At least, now, from today’s #bandrastation incident, state government must take a lesson and ensure that such dangerous incidents do not take place in future.”BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis