Gujarat Home Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja said that the state government has asked the police to take action on anyone threatening migrant workers forcing them to flee the state.
“Thirty-five FIRs have been lodged and the number of attacks on migrants has decreased in the last 24 hours,” Jadeja said, adding, “We appeal to people to not be frightened as we are taking appropriate actions.”
In a statement issued today, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani assured the safety of migrant workers and promised appropriate action against those involved in attacks.
He also appealed for the unity “which is the culture and identity of Gujarat”.
Reports say that around 40,000 people, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, have fled Gujarat following days of violence against them by unidentified groups.
In a press conference held on Monday, Jadeja acknowledged that there have attacks on the people from the three states in the last 4-5 days adding that action has been taken against the perpetrators.
“Police are interrogating the people who have been arrested for these attacks. We have registered three cases under the IT Act for spreading hatred on social media,” Jadeja told the media.
He said that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state is committed to provide security to those who come to Gujarat for employment.
“We have submitted a report to the central govt regarding every incident,” the state home minister said.
Railways stations in northern parts of Gujarat witnessed crowds of migrant workers boarding trains bound for their home state to escape targeted attacks on them.
The attacks on the migrants began after a labourer from Bihar was arrested for allegedly raping a 14-month-old girl in a village in Sabarkantha district on 28 September.
Hate messages on Whatsapp were circulated calling for attacks on people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Around 170 people were arrested in connection with the attacks till 6 October. Though the intensity of attacks has reduced stray incidents continue to be reported from seven districts in north Gujarat.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that he had spoken to his Gujarat counterpart on Sunday.
“I spoke to Gujarat CM yesterday. We’re in touch with them. They’re monitoring situation. Those who’ve committed a crime should be punished but no bias should be harboured for others,” Kumar was quoted as saying by ANI on Monday.
In a letter written to Gujarat High Court Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel had requested the setting up of a special fast-track court in the case.
Addressing reporters on Saturday in Ahmedabad, Patel said, “I have written to the chief justice with request to set up a special fast-track court so that trial in rape cases at Himmatnagar (in Sabarkantha district) and Surat are held there and completed in a month or so.”
Meanwhile, the state government blamed Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor for the violence. According to reports, the toddler who was raped belonged to the Thakor community.
His group, the Thakor Sena, have been staging protests in north Gujarat demanding justice for the girl. Thakor had on Sunday called the attacks “unfortunate” and stated that his group “never advocated violence and only talked peace”.
Thakor had on 3 October announced a fast outside Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Ashram on 8 October to seek justice.