12 Migrants Walking Home Charged By Police, Forced to Take Bail 

12 migrants who were walking back home from Jharkhand to Bengal, were charged for violating the lockdown. 

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Twelve migrant workers, who were walking back home from Jharkhand to West Bengal amid the nationwide lockdown, were taken to the police station and charged for violating the lockdown. They were even forced to take bail and pay Rs 3,500.

“Ever since the lockdown was announced, we were forced to sit at home. Within a month, our resources were exhausted. We wanted to go home and made all arrangements to go home.”
Asif, Migrant Worker from Malda, West Bengal

On 22 April, 24 workers left their villages after the ration exhausted. But, the police caught them on the way and put them in a quarantine centre. The labourers alleged that, on 11 May, the Jaduguda police station in-charge told them that they would either have to take bail or go to jail.

After this, each one of them had to pay Rs 3,500 for bail, following which the police released them. Of them, 12 laborers were from Birbhum and 12 from Malda district of West Bengal. The workers from Birbhum returned to their village but the workers from Malda had no money left to return home.

‘Have No Money Left to Go Home’

The migrant workers claim that even after paying for bail, they could not go home. With no money left, they appealed for help but were sent to Chakradharpur in Jharkhand instead.

“With no money left, we requested for help to be able to reach home in Malda or at least the Bengal border. From there, we would go on foot, but we were sent back to Chakradharpur. Now, we neither have anything to eat nor any money to pay rent.”
Abdul, Migrant Worker from Malda, West Bengal

A case was registered against these workers under sections 188, 269, 270, 290 and 34 of the IPC. Even after they tested negative for coronavirus, sections 269, 270 of IPC were not removed.

Section 269 of IPC is for negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life, Section 270 is for malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life. Section 290 is for punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for. Section 34 is when a criminal act is done by several persons.

‘We Just Want to Go Home’

When The Quint reached out to SSP Jamshedpur Tamil Banan, he said that the migrants workers were charged for violating lockdown rules.

“We didn’t know, initially, if they would test positive or negative. But, they were not charged based on whether they would test positive or negative. They were charged because they violated the lockdown. Why should charges against them be taken back?Why did they violate the lockdown? Why did they leave?”
Tamil Banan, SSP, Jamshedpur

Currently, the twelve migrant workers are staying in a rented apartment in Chakradharpur, where they have to pay a rent of Rs 3,500.

They have no money left for food or rent and are dependent on supplies from good samaritans. All they want is to go back home.

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