The haryana government is facing sharp criticism after a video clip of police lathi-charging migrant labourers surfaced on social media.
Posting the video on his Twitter account, senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed that the incident took place in Yamunanagar district of Haryana. The incident allegedly took place on Friday, when several migrant labourers, many of them on cycles, blocked a road demanding that they be allowed to move to Uttar Pradesh.
The video clip shows policemen thrashing labourers, forcing them to run into the fields, leaving their bicycles on the road. The clip later shows slippers and luggage strewn on the road after the incident.
Within hours of Surjewala uploading the video clip on his Twitter account, it had been viewed more than 42,000 times.
कितना जुल्म ढायेगी “हे सरकार”!
यमुनानगर, हरियाणा में प्रवासी मज़दूरों को दोड़ा-दोड़ा कर पीटती खट्टर सरकार!
इन्ही हवाई चप्पल वालों को जहाज़ में बिठाने का वादा कर सत्ता में आई थी ना भाजपा? pic.twitter.com/1P4VgrAVdw
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) May 17, 2020
Yamunanagar SP Himanshu Garg told The Indian Express that around 300 labourers who had been staying at a shelter home in Karheda village of Yamunanagar district had come out and demanded that they be sent back to their homes.
“Mild force was used to send them back to the shelter home after a few of them threw stones at policemen deployed there,” he added.
Asked about the incident, Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said, “I have spoken to the DGP and Yamunanagar SP.
“I have instructed police not to use force (against the labourers). If such situation arises, senior officers should visit the spot to try to neutralise the situation.”
Sources said police resorted to lathi charge when the labourers blocked national highway 344 near Karheda village of Yamunanagar district on Friday. They said the local authorities had set up a shelter home at a school to provide temporary accommodation to those migrant labourers who were going to Uttar Pradesh from Punjab and Chandigarh via Yamunanagar district.
“Some of the labourers were staying here for the past five days. More labourers came here from Punjab on Friday. They blocked the highway and did not open the road even after repeated requests by policemen. Then additional force was called and the labourers were cane-charged,” said a source privy to the incident.
Former chief minister Bhupindra Singh Hooda said, “It is inhuman to beat up poor labourers who are victims of circumstances. The government should treat them with empathy in this difficult period”.
Hooda advised the government to ensure that the workers don’t flee from the state and arrangements be made for their stay and food and they should be provided with immediate monetary relief or alternate employment.
“If the government is not able to do this or poor labourers want to go home, then proper arrangements should be made for migrants so they can return home safe. The government does not seem able to provide any relief and workers have to travel hundreds of kilometres on foot. Instead of running buses or trains for them, the government is using sticks on them. This is unfortunate. The poorest have been the worst victims of the pandemic. The government should fulfill both its administrative and humanitarian responsibilities towards them,” Hooda said.
Senior Congress leader Kiran Choudhry has also criticised the government in connection with the incident.