Curse of Lock Down: Whether fait accompli for Migrants

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Prateek Mishra

In the series of tragic events and shock felt by the nation aftermath the declaration of the COVID-19 epidemic as ‘Pandemic’ by the World Health Organisation and consequently National Lock Down by the Government, we have now witnessed the images of mutilated bodies of workers of age ranging between 20 to 30 on a railway track.


Reasoning, i.e.; “DECIDED TO REST ON THE RAILWAY TRACK” might be used to showcase the negligence on the part of the labourers, but it is indeed a haunting one. It reveals the tragic state of affairs of the labourers after lockdown, tragic state of failure of administration, tragic loss of apathy towards problems of migrants.
The Hindu also quoted Jalna MP Raosaheb Danve who said that he was trying to ascertain as to what compelled the labourers to begin walking to their hometowns despite the Maharashtra government having started transport of labourers via the Shramik Special trains.
Is there really any need to ASCERTAIN the fact which could be appreciated by bare sympathetic mind after 45 days of the National Lockdown!!!!


As reported by the news agency, The Hindu, Sixteen migrant labourers, who were trying to return to their home State Madhya Pradesh on foot, were killed on Friday when a goods train ran over them between Jalna and Aurangabad districts. “From initial reports, it appears that they started walking on Thursday evening from Jalna and after walking 40 km and exhausted by their journey, decided to rest on the track, where they fell asleep. They were planning to walk to Bhusaval but tragedy struck,” said a policeman from the Karmad police station.


Lock down firstly came into effect on 25.03.2020 for 21 days vide Order dated 24.03.2020 of Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) under Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act. This was followed by guidelines which inter-alia prescribe for Closing of all Industrial, Commercial and Private establishment and suspension of all transport services.
As per Report on Migration of the Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner of India, the data on migration by last residence in India as per Census 2001 shows that the total number of migrants has been 314 million. Out of these migrants by last residence, 268 million (85%) has been intra-state migrants, those who migrated from one are of the state to another.


Since inception of lockdown we came across the images depicting panic heads gathered at Bus or Railway Terminal in search of transportation, images of migrants dragging their infants with them in their quest to reach their home town, news of death of person who walked miles to come to his home place.


It is not difficult to understand the plight of migrants in Lock down situation. In early days of April month, even United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner has noted that” Lacking jobs and money, and with public transportation shut down, hundreds of thousands of migrants who have no job security or protection, were forced to trek often hundreds of miles back to their home villages – with some dying on the journey”.
Then how could it be difficult of a People’s Representative to understand that:—
*Migrants were stranded in Lock Down for a period over a Month,
*They might not having enough money to spend on their commutation,
*Only Issuance of Guidelines is not Enough. It do not ipso-facto confirms due Implementation.


Lock down has been effected vide executive order with noble object of saving lives of the people. To achieve such object, certain restrictions were imposed which had undoubtedly apparently infringed with Only fundamental right of movement with justifiable ground. But at this juncture, in the Post Covid-19 era, the images of Roti scattered on railway track at fatal incident sight, ought to tend us to rethink on the issue that “However pious the object of National Lock Down might be, absence of duly effective policy to protect migrant’s interest, gradually infringing “Right to Life” guaranteed by the Constitution without appropriate justifiable ground”.

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