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State Governments, Migrants and a Fight for Home

Over 3.62 lakh migrant workers returned to their home towns in Rajasthan from states such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by trains and buses. 43,320 students stuck in Kota and 3,900 pilgrims at the Ajmer dargah had been sent back by special trains. Twenty-three trains left the State for different places in the country since May 1.

The first train from Mumbai carrying migrant laborers arrived yesterday in Bikaner. Though they are being charged ₹675 to travel through the trains.

In the initial phase of the lockdown, Rajasthan High Court has issued a notice to the State government to move the migrant workers across the states. The laborers were reported to move on foot without any assistance.

The government arranged for about 600 buses. The migrants complained about the buses not being present at the locations they were told about. Civil rights activists have asked the government to set up camps on the Rajasthan-Gujarat border since there has been a huge inflow of workers from Gujarat back home. Due to lockdown, they got stuck on the border without essential commodities.

Compared to what Rajasthan did, Kerela Government’s steps have been termed the most humane of all. They set up relief camps, night shelters, gave health care benefits and education allowances for children.

Orissa, on the other hand, focused on protecting its workers stranded in other states. They set up migration support center and signed MoU’s with several local governments.

Uttar Pradesh government scraped the labor laws (for the joy of it, I suppose). It has now left workers hanging amidst insecurity and unemployment. Though they promise to generate enough jobs post lockdown that workers won’t need to migrate.

Rajasthan Government on a scale of 1-10 on how successfully they have dealt with the issue has managed to score a five. They took steps to get the workers back from states but didn’t act on how to send them back. There are people still waiting on the borders to return.

With the last day today of lockdown 3.0, it would be interesting to see how the state government ends up dealing the issues concerning migrant laborers such as unemployment, food security and homelessness.

Image Credits: The Wire

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Written by Nikita Gupta

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