Soon after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement on Tuesday to extend the lockdown, hoards of migrant workers in the afternoon gathered outside Mumbai’s Bandra station in protest against the decision.
The video footage showed thousands of people gathered at the Bandra station thrashing the social distancing appeal which was again made by the Prime Minister in his today’s address to the nation.
As per the reports, hundreds of migrant workers gathered in Bandra, Mumbai demanding permission to return to their native places.
They were later dispersed by the police who resorted to lathi-charge. The site was later sanitized by the authorities after the crowd dispersed.
However, contrary to this, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said they gathered near the station because they thought PM Modi had ordered opening of state borders.
“Migrant workers who gathered near Bandra station in Mumbai may have thought PM Modi had ordered opening of state borders,” Anil Deshmukh was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Thousands of migrant labourers gather outside Bandra station, they were hoping that trains would start today and they would be able to go to their native place.
— Saral Patel (@SaralPatel) April 14, 2020
It was reported that Home Minster Amit Shah called Uddhav Thackeray and expressed concern over the incident. He stressed that such events weaken India’s fight against coronavirus and administration needs to stay vigilant to avoid such incidents.
He also offered full support to Maharashtra government.
Later, Mumbai Police PRO, Pranaya Ashok, said, “Today at 4 pm, around 1500 people gathered at Bandra railway station premises. Many of them were migrant labourers. They were unhappy with the extension of the lockdown and wanted to go back to their homes. They had placed their demand before administration.”
Narrating the event, he said, “Local Police officials went to the spot, talked to them and tried to convince them. During this, a section of the crowd turned violent so light force had to be used to bring them under control.”
He further told that the crowd was dispersed and Police is deployed there. Situation is normal and peaceful.
Earlier in the day, in his address to the nation at 10 am, PM Modi extended the lockdown further till May 3. The move was not a shocker as it was anticipated that the lockdown will be extended till April 30. However, the government sources said it was due to May 1 being a public holiday and May 2 and May 3 being a weekend that PM decided to stretch it a bit further.
PM Modi in his address said that detailed guidelines related to the second phase of the lockdown will be released tomorrow.
The plight of migrant workers had come up in the first phase of 21-day lockdown itself, which was announced on March 24. Many workers in the hope of returning to their homes reached Delhi’s Anand Vihar Bus Station. The visuals showed a clear breach of social distancing, appealed by the PM to fight the coronavirus.
Many migrant workers were even seen walking 100s of km back to their hometowns due to the absence of public transport.
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court narrating the plight of migrant workers and appealing remedy for them. The court asked the government to ensure availability of proper food and essentials to them.
However, the Centre had asked the State government to seal their borders to restrict the entrance of migrant workers and those migrant workers who were stranded at the state borders were sent in makeshift quarantine centres.
India has witnessed over 9,000 cases of deadly coronavirus with 353 deaths due to the deadly virus.