Celebrating the death of migrants?
There is no doubt about the fact that the lockdown has been the harshest on migrant workers, many of whom have lost their lives while trying to reach their home. The internet is filled with heart-wrenching stories and pictures of labourers trying to do whatever they can in order to spend some time with their family at their own house. Some are peddling their way home and the less fortunate ones have decided to walk. People are being hoarded into trucks and containers, risking their lives, in the most recent case at least 24 migrants were killed in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya. No food, no water, no money, walking tirelessly in the scorching heat with kids on their back. The most saddening part is what happens to them after reaching their native places. The migrants are required to stay in quarantine centres set up by the government. These places are reportedly very unhygienic and difficult to stay in. Small kids are residing there without any fans or cooler. Half cooked rotis and water like daal. Mardana, a village in MP where migrants are quarantined have allegedly reported that they have to face discrimination due to their castes.
Amidst all the stories and hardships, the BJP government marked its 6th anniversary of coming to power. The party launched a social media video, “6 saal , bemisaal”, to highlight the achievements of the government. The word “bemisaal” means matchless, indeed such low levels of politics and governance remain unmatched. In a crisis like situation due to the pandemic whenever the government fails at a policy, it starts playing the good old blame game. The centre will try to set a narrative that puts the blame on the states especially ruled by the Opposition. Very recently, a day after the railway minister Piyush Goel accused West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan of not allowing Shramik Special Trains to bring back migrants. Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri posted on Twitter on Saturday that “the Auraiya accident. underlines the necessity for stakeholders, including receiving states, to ease restrictions for all affected people, particularly migrants & allow limited air, road & rail connections”.
After announcing the first phase of lockdown, the central government had told the supreme court that nearly 14.3 lakh had been housed in 37,978 relief camps and that further 26,225 food camps had been opened to provide food to 1.3 crore people. Nearly 16.5 lakh workers had been given shelter and food by their employers, the government claims.
However, the streams of migrants on the road nearly two months after the lockdown began on March 24, underlines the government’s underestimation of the scale of the disruption that its decision, announced by the Prime Minister with barely four hours’ notice, would trigger. With the deaths in Auraiya, the number of migrant workers killed on the roads in the last 54 days has reached 134. The majority of these deaths have occurred in the third phase of the lockdown that began on May 4.
Why are the deaths, complaints, migrants hanging on the trucks not visible to the eyes of the government ? is this what they meant by being aatmanirbhar ?