The lockdown that never was

Migrant workers bear the brunt

Society

March 31, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden announcement of a complete lockdown nationwide has led to chaotic scenes all over the country as millions of migrant workers, threatened by starvation due to absence of any work, were forced to leave for their villages, most of them on foot. When the Uttar Pradesh government announced special buses to ferry people from Delhi to their villages, tens of thousands of them turned up at Anand Vihar in eastern Delhi in order to find their way home.

The announcement and the lack of preparedness of the official machinery to handle the rush was visible right from the morning as the migrant workers jostled and pushed each other and the police resorted to cane charging the migrants. The people rushed into the first available bus to take them home. With passengers sitting on the rooftops and each bus packed with people, the notion of social distancing and other precautions that the medical experts have been propagating were clearly thrown to the winds. The mismanagement has been such that even Modi had to apologise to the people in his monthly radio address about the troubles that the migrant workers, amongst the poorest of Indians, were put to due to the lockdown. The scenes from Anand Vihar as well as other parts of the country show that the whole idea of lockdown has been put paid to by the way the government has handled the planning before and after the lockdown was announced.

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