As many as 35 persons were arrested on Monday after a group of migrant workers employed at the IIM Ahmedabad site in Vastrapur area vandalised office property, government vehicles and assaulted police personnel and other workers, demanding that they be allowed to return home.
Police said they fired tear gas shells and resorted to lathicharge when the irate group assaulted other workers, pelted stones at police teams and vandalised properties. All 35 arrested are from Jharkhand, they added.
According to police, around 10 am on Monday, Vastrapur police station received a message that a mob of over 250-300 migrant workers had assembled at the GMDC Ground behind Alpha One mall, demanding that they be allowed to go back to their home states.
The workers, carrying iron rods, pipes and sticks started marching towards IIM Ahmedabad area when police stopped them at the overbridge intersection. The mob then threw stones a the personnel before entering the IIM Ahmedabad premises where they broke the glass windows of the site office and vandalised three cabins of the security guards.
“The workers from PSP construction company were hired by IIM management for construction work. They wanted to return to Jharkhand but was not able to due to limited number of trains. This angered the workers who resorted to violence, leading to the arrests ,” said SR Gamit, in charge officer, Vastrapur police station.
The workers also damaged police and private vehicles stationed outside IIM campus with iron pipes and wooden sticks. Later, they also assaulted other migrant workers who stayed with them in shanties at the GMDC ground who did not join them. A total of 500 workers and families live in shanties at the GMDC ground of Vastrapur.
“We all want to go home but on Monday, some workers started assaulting the supervisor of our company when he tried to reason with them. My husband was also attacked by the mob saying that we should also protest and vandalise property to go back home,” said Anita, a migrant worker from Madhya Pradesh.
“For the past few days, we were being told that trains are being arranged to send us back home. The workers have been waiting after registering,” said Sushil Mahto, a worker from West Bengal.
Police have booked the 35 persons under Indian Penal Code sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 144 (unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapon) 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of duty), 332 (causing hurt to public servant), 333 (causing grievous hurt to public servant), 336 (act endangering life), 337 (causing hurt to others by rash act), 427 (mischief), and 188 (disobedience to order given by public servant).
Seven police teams from nearby police stations arrived at the sport, after which the workers were rounded up and a flag march was conducted.
In a mail sent out by the chief administrative officer’s office to the IIMA community with the subject, “unrest of migrant workers at new campus construction site entrance”, stated that “the workers were from Jharkhand and were agitated as they could not go home due to want of trains”.
Construction work of new academic, faculty and hostel blocks at IIMA’s new campus was put on hold due to lockdown.
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