Lyricist, writer and director Gulzar recently penned down a poem, which he released on his Fcebook page, capturing the plight of the migrant workers caught unawares in the lockdown. The migrant crisis has emerged as a humanitarian crisis while the nation has been under a lockdown since 25 March to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Images of migrant workers walking down streets and highways, cycling in the sweltering heat or travelling back home in crammed trucks, tempos and buses have stormed the media. Experts and activists have pointed towards the lack of planning and consideration shown to the migrant workers who form the backbone of our economy.
Gulzar's poem succinctly captures feeling among the migrant workers that they are heading back home to where there is life, instead of remaining in cities where they are viewed as nothing but labourers.
Recently, 16 migrant workers were killed in Maharashtra's Aurangabad when a train ran over them. The Centre had told the Supreme Court during a hearing after the accident that migrant workers across the country were being provided transportation by the government to their destinations, but they have to wait for their turn rather than starting on foot.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had on 29 April issued orders directing states and Union governments to facilitate the movement of stranded persons including migrant workers but had later issued a clarification stating that the order was meant for distressed persons but not for those who reside normally reside away from their native places for work and "wish to visit their native places in normal course."
According to Live Law, this clarification had created much confusion among states even as special trains had been started for migrant workers and it was even used as a justification for the cancellation of special trains by the Karnataka government on 6 May. However, the train services were restarted after criticism from various quarters.
Many of the migrants, who also staged protests across the country since the imposition of the lockdown on 25 March had pointed pointed out to difficulties such as lack of food and money as they were left with no employment options. Some also had stories to tell of misfortunes striking their families back home.
Updated Date: May 18, 2020 17:34:58 IST