In two separate incidents on Monday afternoon, thousands of migrant workers came out on the streets in Vareli village of Surat district, and Palanpur area of Surat city, demanding to go home.
In Vareli, migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, working in the textile dyeing and printing factories of Kadodara GIDC and powerloom units, came out on the streets chanting slogans and demanding to go back to their home states.
According to police sources, at that point, there were only five policemen present there, who tried telling the mob on loudspeakers to go back, but were pelted with stones. Two policemen were injured and several vehicles damaged by the workers, officers said. The police charged them with lathis and lobbed tear gas shells. At least 100 persons were detained, and offences registered against them at the Palsana police station.
Three police vehicles and equal number of private vehicles were damaged in the stone-pelting.
Deputy Superintendent of police Bhargav Pandya said, “The situation is under control. After we came to know they were marching ahead, we tried to pacify them. These migrant labourers hail from UP and Bihar. We asked their local leaders to explain to them that arrangements would be made for their return back to their home states. The mob was angry and pelted stones on the police. We used lathi charge and tear gas shells to control the situation. The injured policemen are now fine.”
Around the same time, in Palanpur area of Surat city, another mob of around 500 migrant labourers came out on the road and demanded to go back to their home states. Their main complaint was that their landlords were demanding rent. Reinforcements were sent to Palanpur to placate the mob and deputy commissioner of police Prashant Sumbe convinced them to go back to their quarters.
“During interaction, we got the sense that they just wanted to go back to their homes. We have told them we will keep their issue in mind and try to work on it. We have assured them that complaints will be registered against houseowners who demand money. The mob was pacified and we didn’t use any force to disperse them. We have also started patrolling in the entire area.”
At least 20 were detained and an offence against 100 people registered at the Adajan police station in this connection, for violation of police commissioner notification and under The Epidemic Diseases Act.