Plight of migrant labourers cannot be explained in words and its heart wrenching. Loss of livelihood, loss of roof over their head and loss of three-square meals a day has forced their exodus from their work state to home state. As per Newton’s third law every action has got an equal and opposite reaction. This can be seen across India as till date more than one tenth of people (as compared to Covid-19) have lost their life in road accidents and hunger while fleeing for their lives. This is the order of the day when it comes to labourers fleeing to their home state. State machinery is blind, deaf and handicapped and is in total disarray. It is doing nothing for more than five hundred million people working as labourers across India.
When on 24th March 2020, the government announced a nationwide lockdown none of us knew that at forefront of this catastrophe will be the migrant labourers. Since day one of lockdown, with each passing moment their basic amenities such as water, food and shelter is getting dried up. How can modern era rajas and maharajas be mute spectator and turn a blind eye towards the suffering, pain and agony of almost 50% of its population? How can they sleep when the people who brought them to power are walking on roads day and night bare foot? How can these people eat their ‘chappan bhog’ when people on roads and highways are hardly getting any water to drink?
As the lockdown started, whatever little savings and resources this poor class had started depleting fast. Since they lost their jobs, they could not pay their dues. As a result they were evicted by their land lords. The threat of pandemic and loss of jobs forced these people to move by own rikshaw, cycle on foot or whatever resources available. This signifies that how much our administration is ill prepared for managing such a disaster.
Amid the chaos onne fine day we saw Delhi’s CM popping up on the national prime time with his usual innocent face and blowing up the trumpet about Delhi’s ‘Rain Basera’ which provide the migrant workers with food and water. However, the resentful veracity of the matter was that the food was inadequate for every person who was taking refuge under shelter home. Another big announcement he made was about ‘Dialling 100 if any landlord asks for money’, however each of his words proved to be hollow.
Another incident that added insult to the injury for these people was the Aurangabad Train accident where sixteen migrant workers were crushed under the wheels of a freight train. Among those sixteen poor heads 14 of them died on the spot and remaining two later succumbed to their injuries. The PM of the nation made a typical condolence statement and nothing much was done for helping these poverty-stricken people.
We hear about the adversity the labour class is going through on a regular basis now. These cases are not standalone but every day we get to hear a lot many of them are coming down under the wheels before they reach their destination. If this was not enough state machineries are working like paid mercenaries and they are coming down heavily on the destitute who have been left to fend for themselves. These people are getting mercilessly beaten up when travelling back on foot or on a look out to fill their stomach. What a shame! When our people need them the most, they are ominously absent and whatever they have been doing is nothing more than a pinch of sugar in the ocean. The pandemic and the distress migration followed by state failure means the workers have been pushed from out of the frying pan into the fire.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Voice of Margin.
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