Why Did Hundreds of Migrant Labourers Gather Near Bandra Station?
Misinformation by a news channel or was there another reason for hundreds of migrant labourers to gather in Bandra?
At about 3:30 pm, around 1,500 migrant labourers gathered outside Mumbai’s Bandra terminus. Anxious about the lockdown being extended till 3 May, these workers sought an intervention from the authorities that would enable them to return home amid the lockdown.
While it is still not fully clear as to why they assumed that Indian Railways had resumed its service after remaining shut since 22 March, Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik claimed it might have been caused by misleading media reports.
Malik uploaded the video clip showing a regional news channel claiming that special trains would begin plying to take migrant workers stranded in Mumbai, back home to other states.
Malik followed this up by tweeting about another possibility that could have led to the confusion where he put up a memo that said, Western Railway will run 66 more trips of 8 parcel special trains to ensure supply of essential commodities. The memo however, clearly mentions that no passenger would be allowed to travel by these trains.
Railways Issues Clarification
Clarifying that the cancellation of all passenger train services by Indian Railways have been extended in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, railways issued a statement saying, “It is clarified that All passenger train services on Indian Railways including Premium trains, Mail/Express trains, Passenger trains, Suburban (Local) trains, etc shall continue to remain cancel till the 2400 hrs of 3rd May 2020 as per guidelines of Govt. of India. Only Goods/Parcel trains will continue to run (sic).”
It further added,
“It is also made clear that there was no plan to run any train in view of the Safety from spread of Corona virus & neither there was any communication whatsoever regarding introduction of any train service post first period of Lockdown from Railways’ side (sic).”Statement by Indian Railways
What Happened Outside Bandra Station on 14 April?
Hours after PM Modi announced the extension of the lockdown to 3 May, hundreds of migrant labourers started gathering outside the Bandra station and allegedly demanded the State make provisions to send them back home.
“The zonal DCP and ACP tried to hold a dialogue with them and convince the people who had gathered. At this point, a portion of the crowd turned aggressive.”DCP Pranaya Ashok, Mumbai Police Spokesperson
The police tried to pacify the gathering by giving them ration but when the crowd allegedly started turning violent, the Mumbai poliuce resorted to lathi charge to disperse them.
Lakhs of migrant workers have been affected due to the nationwide lockdown. With no jobs, no money and lack of food supplies, most of them began walking back home, hundreds of kilometres away in March.
Why Gather Only Outside Bandra Station?
The choice of station picked by the workers to gather at is being questioned by many. Since most migrant labourers working in Mumbai hail from states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, trains heading to these two states cross CSMT, Dadar station, LTT Kurla, Mumbai Central, Bandra Terminus and Borivali station. However, none of the other stations saw a similar gathering.
This raises even more questions that could only be answered through a thorough investigation.
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