In a shocking video that has surfaced online, migrant workers and their families from Uttar Pradesh were seen being forced to take a bath in alleged chemical solution on their arrival in Bareilly.
In the video footage of the incident, a group of migrants can be seen squatting on the road near a checkpoint in Bareilly as officials in full protection gear spray a solution on them. Apart from being fully clothed, the migrants can be seen holding their luggages to their bodies as they get drenched.
The action was carried out by a team on sanitising duty at the Bareilly bus stand. The incident occurred during the presence of Uttar Pradesh Police officials, who can also be spotted in the video.
As per reports, the migrants who had walked down from Noida and Delhi, were told to sit at the bus stand by officials who said that they would be taken on buses and would be given food.
“About 50 of us were seating and waiting for food and the bus at the satellite bus adda when some men in protective suits came and began spraying water on us. They said that they were form the sanitization team and were sanitizing us. The children began crying and women were also shocked,” one migrant in the group was quoted as saying by IANS.
According to reports, children complained of itching in their eyes while some women developed rashes after they were sprayed with the solution.
“The chemical had a strange smell and after this incident, most of us left Bareilly and decided to continue our journey on foot,” the man said.
Officials in Lucknow have not responded to queries on the incident.
Taking to Twitter, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi has condemned the action.
“I appeal to the government in UP… all of us are fighting together against this crisis (coronavirus). Please don’t indulge into such inhuman actions. The labourers have already suffered a lot. Don’t spray chemicals on them. This won’t protect them… rather it would harm their health,” she wrote in Hindi.
यूपी सरकार से गुजारिश है कि हम सब मिलकर इस आपदा के खिलाफ लड़ रहे हैं लेकिन कृपा करके ऐसे अमानवीय काम मत करिए।
मजदूरों ने पहले से ही बहुत दुख झेल लिए हैं। उनको केमिकल डाल कर इस तरह नहलाइए मत। इससे उनका बचाव नहीं होगा बल्कि उनकी सेहत के लिए और खतरे पैदा हो जाएंगे। pic.twitter.com/ftovaFHR5q
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) March 30, 2020
Amidst outrage over the incident, Bareilly district magistrate Nitish Kumar said he will look into allegations and ordered action against officials who forced migrants to take bath in the open.
“This video has been investigated, the affected people are being treated under the direction of the CMO. The team of Bareilly Municipal Corporation and Fire Brigade were instructed to sanitize the buses, but they did so due to hyperactivity. Instructions have been given to take action against the concerned,” Kumar tweeted.
Meanwhile, the nodal officer in-charge of COVID-19 in Bareilly, Ashok Gautam, confirmed that the administration did bathe the migrants with sanitiser, chlorine mixed with water, but clarified it was not a chemical solution.
Over the weekend, thousands of migrant labourers from Delhi, Haryana and even Punjab have taken arduous treks on foot to reach their native places in the absence of public transportation amidst the 21-day lockdown.
The migrant workers were seen thronging the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders and trying to return to their native states by any available transport.
In the wake of an apparent failure of the lockdown, the Centre on Sunday directed the states to strictly follow the nationwide lockdown norms and stop the movement of people across the cities, advising them to arrange shelter, food and other facilities for migrant labourers at their workplace.