New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has criticised the Centre over the continuing exodus of migrants from various parts of the country in the wake of the ongoing 21-day nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, speaking in particular about the congregation of thousands of people at Delhi’s Anand Vihar bus station on Saturday, despite the lockdown. Also Read - Amid COVID-19 Fear, Migrant Workers Huddle at Anand Vihar Bus Terminus in Hope to Return Home
Notably, migrant workers in huge numbers, gathered at the bus station last night in a bid to find a way back to their native places, triggering fears of a possible ‘stage 3’ or ‘community transmission’ of the virus. Also Read - Can Feed 4 Lakh People From Today Onwards: Kejriwal Ramps up Efforts to Rescue Migrant Workers Amid COVID-19 Lockdown
In a tweet, the former Congress president said, “Out of work and facing an uncertain future, millions of our brothers and sisters across India are struggling to find their way back home. It’s shameful that we’ve allowed any Indian citizen to be treated this way and that the government had no contingency plans in place for this exodus.” Also Read - COVID-19 Lockdown: 'Use State Disaster Relief Fund to Provide Food, Shelter to Migrant Workers,' MHA to States/UTs
Last night’s developments also later triggered a war of words between the neighbouring governments of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, headed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) respectively.
Migrant workers have been the worst affected by the nationwide lockdown. In last few days, videos have emerged of large families making their way back to their native places-in some cases, from one state to another-on foot, as public transport has been closed as a part of the lockdown. With no work left, they have no choice but to leave, thus becoming susceptible to contracting COVID-19.
The Centre has released advisories to states and union territories, directing them to care of the workers. Chief Ministers, too, have written to each other, seeking help for migrants from their states stuck in different parts of the country, and promising to take care of those in their own states.