Twenty-three-year-old Susheel Kumar had started his journey to Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh Saturday early morning. He said he was already feeling closer home when he finally boarded a bus from Surat where he works at a textile unit. However, 24 hours after, he is back to his cramped rented flat in Surat after he was sent back from the Khangela check post in Dahod on the Gujarat-MP border.
Saturday evening, Kumar was amongst the 3,000 migrant labourers who were sent back from the Gujarat-MP border. “We had learnt that there was movement. A few buses had already reached UP and we wanted to go home too. It has been over a month and the lockdown keeps extending, how long will I survive here without work,” Kumar said.
On Saturday afternoon, as the migrants were disallowed to cross over to MP, violence erupted as they resorted to pelting stones on the police personnel deployed at the checkpost and damaged three police vehicles. Sixty people were detained from the spot and eight were arrested after medical examination.
“My neighbours from MP were going to take this bus and they told me that I should join in too because the bus was going till UP as well. I paid Rs 2,350 for a seat. I have Rs 1,500 and thought would need it on the way. I was happy throughout that I will soon be home. But we weren’t allowed to move to MP. They checked my Aadhaar card and said I wouldn’t be allowed to go as I am from UP. In the process, I lost the money and I am back where I was,” a distraught Kumar said.
Another native of UP, Babli Yadav (25) had taken a small loan from a friend for a bus seat. “All the people around were heading back home. When I heard that a bus would take us home I wanted to go. I did not have enough money so I took a loan of Rs 2,000 from a friend. I had promised to return him the money after I reach home. Now the money is gone and I am still here. How will I repay him? I have spent most of my savings already. I do not have the money to book another ticket. How will I go?”
Late on Friday night, Madhya Pradesh sealed all its borders with Gujarat for migrants travelling to Uttar Pradesh immediately after the UP government issued a directive to seal its entire state border.
“The Uttar Pradesh government gave a written letter to the MP government informing them that the state borders were sealed. Immediately after that the MP government sealed its entire border. Irrespective of drivers carrying permits, the buses were not allowed to cross over to MP. The migrants had started coming to the border because they had heard that the movement was allowed. But crossing over to MP was not allowed if they carried Aadhaar cards from UP. So it was better to send them back home from where they had started. Movement for natives of MP is still allowed from here after a thorough checking of their ID cards,” said Dahod district collector Vijay Kharadi.
Vipul Mittra, additional chief secretary, labour and employment department, said, “If other states are restricting movement of incoming migrants, we have to comply. Movement is allowed only if they have valid permits. Every time during such lockdown extension, some confusion ensues over the movements, but it will get clarified in a couple of days.”
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