Over 4,000 signatories petition to PMO to deploy central forces to help migrants return home

The petition was filed by Aajeevika Bureau and Working Peoples’ Charter

PMOImage Courtesy:thequint.com

As India draws closer to the end of the 4th phase of the coronavirus lockdown, over 100 migrants have lost their lives trying to reach home to their native villages. While some lost their lives due to hunger and exhaustion as they walked thousands of kilometers to reach home, others died battling the harsh weather and in accidents. When the Centre realized that they had left the most vulnerable faction of society out of the fold of care and benefits, it was too late. Trains and buses were arranged for their travel back home, but the execution of the operations was utterly haphazard with migrants being fleeced of whatever little money they had when they were asked to pay train and bus fares. The issue still persists, with rumours of travel schedules being spread and trains missing official routes.

In light of this, Aajeevika Bureau, an organization with a mission to provide lasting solutions to economic and socio-legal problems of migrant workers, and Working Peoples’ Charter, wrote to the Prime Minister of India, appealing that the Government of India, use the expertise of its central forces to transport millions of inter-state migrants to their homes.

The organizations which began an online petition, garnered over 4,000 signatures, with eminent signatories being Prof. Abhijit Sen – former member Planning Commission GOI, Swami Agnivesh – social activist, Prof. Vimal Thorat – Dalit writer and activist, Justices (retd) Janardhan Sahai and Het Singh – former judges Allahabad High Court, Syeda Hameed – former member Planning Commission and Reema Nanavati among other scholars, labour activists, civil servants and other concerned citizens.

The organizations state that as per reliable sources consulted by them, as many as 667 non-COVID deaths have occurred across the country. 205 of these have occurred among migrant workers en route on foot, and 114 due to starvation and financial distress. This is why, the organizations say that there is an acute need why the government should rope in the central forces and facilities to help with the transportation of migrants.

First, the central forces are equipped to deal with all natural disasters. The National Disaster Management Act has been invoked to implement emergency measures during the lockdown. Migrants on route have faced a threat to life and livelihood. The deployment of central forces and their facilities across the country can help in the mitigation of several challenges and aid the state and Centre in managing the crisis.

Second, the provision of Shramik Special trains has been inadequate – over 2,000 trains have carried around 300,000 migrant workers back home which is only 30 percent of the total population. Citing ground reports, the organizations say that 4 to 6 million workers would need to return to Uttar Pradesh alone. Seeing these numbers, it is apparent that the people are too many and the trains too few, plus marred with extreme lack of coordination and mismanagement like migrants being asked to pay exorbitant fares, delays in arrivals, cancellations and unavailability of food on long routes. Central forces can be roped in to manage schedules and routes effectively apart from making sure that migrants get all the facilities for sustenance on their way home.

Third, assisting states by providing financial support for transportation and rehabilitation of migrants upon arrival. In this, the facilities and resources of the central forces can provide a crucial buffer to states.

The appeal by Aajeevika Bureau and Working Peoples’ Charter says that there has been a stark difference in the Centre’s treatment of migrants and of those who are stranded abroad. It has observed that the procedures to bring back those who were stranded abroad were extremely streamlined and the central forces were used in executing the transport of these persons from stranded in foreign countries to India.

Both the appealing organizations believe that the logical acumen of the central forces and their facilities will aid the safe passage of migrants. Their infrastructure can offer the much needed-emergency transit support and medical help the migrants desperately need. They also say that a mission similar to Vande Bharat which helped Indians across the globe to return to India during the pandemic, can be mirrored to help the migrants safely return home.

Please view the appeal photos here:






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