With thousands of distressed migrant workers, mainly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, passing through Madhya Pradesh on their way home, the entry and exit points in the central Indian state have witnessed chaotic scenes over the last few days.
Workers enter MP from Bijasan Ghat in Sendhwa tehsil of Barwani district and arrive in UP after covering hundreds of kilometres, following three different routes — Bijasan-Dewas-Guna-Shivpuri, Guna-Shivpuri-Gwalior-Bhind and Dewas-Sagar-Chhatarpur — to reach the border areas.
Last week, the MP government stopped workers at Bijasan after the UP government did not allow them to enter the state. The UP government changed its decision after 48 hours but it added to the miseries of migrants, some on foot or bicycles, and some just lucky to have managed rides on vehicles after shelling out big amounts of money.
Many have died in road accidents while several others have died of heat and due to exhaustion. Many of these migrants have also been cheated by vehicle drivers who drop them midway, hundreds of kilometres before their destination.
A senior police officer posted in Gwalior said chaos has reigned at the UP border over the last few days. Despite the two state governments having discussed the matter, the authorities in MP have had to persuade their UP counterparts to let the migrants in. “It goes through the day but things eventually fall in place,” the officer said, admitting that though food and tents have been arranged on this side of the border, the screening facilities are far from satisfactory.
Bijasan was one of the busiest entry points in the country till recently with things improving only marginally on Tuesday. Even on Monday, hundreds of workers got on top of crowded vehicles in MP after being dropped there by buses arranged by the Maharashtra government.
Khargone (DIG) Tilak Singh said the crowd started thinning from Monday from the figure of 35, 000 to 40,000 till a week ago. He said those arriving on foot have stopped but some are coming in vehicles.
The MP government Tuesday announced that it had arranged 375 additional buses to transport migrants to the borders of their respective states and districts. The government claimed that payment for 70 per cent of the buses has been made in advance.
However, Madhuri Krishnaswamy of the Barwani-based Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan accused the MP government of failing to do its part. She said while the Maharashtra government dropped workers in buses at Bijasan border, the MP government did not live up to the job. “Migrants travelled with families and infants atop trucks in heat and putting their lives at risk.”
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