Coronavirus (COVID-19): Hours after Mumbai witnessed protests by migrant workers demanding arrangements to go home, the Delhi government swung into action, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the city’s transport head urging people to not fall for rumours about buses plying at the city’s exit points.
Kejriwal issued a short video message in which he requested migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and other states to stay back at least till May 3, promising to make arrangements for food and medicines during this period.
Transport Commissioner (additional charge) Manisha Saxena said, “It appears that some rumours are being spread that buses are available to go to the borders. No Delhi Transport Corporation or any other buses are available and lockdown is to be strictly observed.”
The MHA had previously suspended Additional Chief Secretary (Transport) Renu Sharma after the city had landed in a crisis with lakhs of migrants assembling at bus terminals like Anand Vihar, bordering UP, a few days into the announcement of the nation-wide lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Apart from Kejriwal and Saxena’s appeals, Chief Secretary Vijay Dev directed the special commissioners of police and the district magistrates to hit the ground to monitor the situation.
Around 3 pm, police caught a group of migrant labourers, who were ostensibly trying to leave the city, at the Mehrauli Badarpur Road near South Delhi’s Saket. An officer said that they stopped over 55 labourers, who were carrying bags of wheat and rice. The men had come from South Delhi’s Saidulajab, the officer added.
DCP (South) Atul Kumar Thakur said, “We called a bus and everyone was dropped home.” Police said that the migrants hail from Bihar and “missed their families”. “We thought that they are leaving because they have no food but they told us that they want to go back to their families and find a job there. We told them that they would be risking their health by doing this. They understood us and returned,” said a senior police officer.
Kejriwal said people must remain disciplined and abide by the lockdown regulations. “The entire country needs to adhere to the restrictions together. We need to save our country, our families. This is about our lives,” he said.
Kejriwal, who had welcomed the PM’s decision to extend the lockdown within minutes of the announcement, said the restrictions have helped save lives, unlike many foreign countries where the pandemic has claimed thousands of lives.
“Now if we don’t follow the rules, our hard work over the last three weeks will go to waste. I understand many of you are from UP, Haryana and Bihar…Try and control your urge to head back. Otherwise there will be chaos,” he said.
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