Modi Govt Blames Fake News for Migrant Exodus. No, It Was Hunger

Modi government told Parliament it was ‘panic by fake news regarding lockdown’ that triggered migrant exodus.

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Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
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Reporters: Tridip Mandal, Poonam Agarwal, Arun Dev

In a written response to the Parliament, Modi government said the exodus of migrant workers was triggered due to ‘panic over fake news regarding lockdown’.

The Quint had spoken to multiple labourers during the massive migration who said it was hunger, job loss, harassment by landlords and lack of opportunities in cities that drove them back home.

"The migration of large number of migrant workers was triggered by panic created by fake news regarding duration of lockdown, and people, especially migrant labourers, were worried about adequate supply of basic necessities like food, drinking water, health services and shelter. However, the Central government was fully conscious of this, and took all necessary measures to ensure that during the period of the inevitable lockdown, no citizen should be deprived of basic amenities of food, drinking water, medical facilities, etc," the answer by Minister of State (MoS), Home Ministry, Nityanand Rai, read.

Earlier, during the current session of the Parliament, the Centre had mentioned that there were 10.4 million migrant workers who went back to their home states since the imposition of lockdown on 23 March by PM Narendra Modi. The government, however, has said that it has not maintained “any data” on the loss of lives or livelihoods of these migrant labourers.

When The Quint’s reporters had spoken to migrant workers in several states across India, they had shared how government apathy had led them to risk their lives and get home amid a pandemic.

‘Landlord Harassed For Rent’

April 2020: Adarsh Rav, migrant worker near Karnataka border said:

“ I don't have even 5 rupees in my pocket. The house owner threw me out and attacked me. He abused me with filthy slangs. What am I supposed to do? I have not had enough money to eat proper food since the last two weeks.”

April 2020: Jyoti who drove her ailing father from Gurugram to Darbhanga, Bihar said:

“The landlord asked us to vacate the room or pay rent. I asked my father how will we manage. I convinced him to get back 750 kms to home on my cycle.”

‘Long Queues For Food, No Money in Pocket’

April 2020: Sonu Singh, migrant worker in Surat, Gujarat said:

“We are having to stand in queue for 4 hours to get food each time. And even after that, some may not get any food.”

May 2020: Ramesh Chauhan, migrant worker near Andhra border said:

“Nobody is helping me with a single rupee. If someone had helped us, would we not be sitting in our rooms comfortably?”

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