Demanding that they be allowed to return to their native places in Bihar, hundreds of migrant workers on Wednesday blocked National Highway (NH) 141 leading to Kandla port from Gandhidham town in Kutch. However, they dispersed after police informed them that special trains will run for them on May 16 and 17.
Hordes of migrant workers blocked the NH 141 section near Cargo Zupadpatti, a settlement of migrant workers near Kandla Special Economic Zone (KASEZ), in Gandhidham by placing boulders. The mob reportedly targeted a few trucks which were passing by. However, Kutch (east) superintendent of police (SP) Parikshita Rathod reached the spot and pacified the mob that eventually dispersed after around two hours.
Rathod said that a Sharmik Special train carrying migrant workers had departed from Gandhidham for Bihar on May 9. “After that, one train left for Madhya Pradesh and one train left for Uttar Pradesh on May 12. Two more trains are leaving for UP tomorrow (Thursday). So, workers from Bihar felt that trains were being run only for UP workers while they were being ignored. Kutch collector had sent a correspondence to the Bihar government with a proposal to run a train to Bihar for workers. But until the Bihar government gives a green signal, trains can’t be operated. We told the agitated workers that the Bihar government has given approval to receive one train each on May 16 and 17. We also assured help to those workers who are facing shortage of ration. After our assurance, the workers dispersed peacefully,” Rathod told The Indian Express.
The SP said that four persons had been booked for blocking inciting the mob. “Four persons who were aggressively protesting and arguing with police were detained by police. During questioning, it was revealed that they were migrant workers from Bihar who had come to Gandhidham from Mundra. They were trying to incite the workers in Gandhidham. Therefore, they have been booked for violating notification regarding lockdown and under relevant sections of the National Disaster Management Act,” said Rathod.
Rathod said that around one lakh workers from UP, Bihar, Assam, MP and parts of Gujarat come to Gandhidham to work as casual labourers. They work at KASEZ and Kandla port, one of the largest public sector ports in the country. Besides being a major landing point of crude oil, Kandla port handles bulk cargo, edible oil, timber and is also a major hub of fertiliser. The port has remained operational during the lockdown.