Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced the extension of the novel coronavirus-enforced lockdown till May 3. Hours after the announcement, a large number of daily wagers gathered in Bandra, Mumbai demanding transport service to go back to their hometowns.
Wage workers have been unemployed ever since the lockdown was announced on March 25 to curb the spread of COVID-19, making their life a constant struggle. After PM Modi declared the extension of lockdown, the migrants in Bandra who are mostly from the states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, allegedly believed that trains buses had been arranged at the spot to take them home.
According to police officials, the daily wage earners, numbering around 1,000, gathered at Bandra (West) bus depot near the railway station and squatted on the road for nearly two hours from 3 pm. The crowd from hundreds turned into thousands; as a result, the situation amid the lockdown turned chaotic. Cops had to resort to a lathi-charge to disperse the crowd.
Later, the Mumbai Police filed an FIR against 800-1,000 people in the incident at the Bandra Police Station.
Series of tweets by Aditya Thackeray
Maharashtra Tourism Minister, Aaditya Thackeray took Bandra incident to Twitter demanding trains back home after the nationwide lockdown extension.
Aaditya continued tweeting as his posts led to a political blame battle. The state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called the incident a failure of the state after Aaditya’s outburst.
Uddhav Thackeray addressing the state
The Union minister Amit Shah on a phone call with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that incidents like that in Bandra could weaken India’s fight against COVID-19 and that the administration needs to stay vigilant.
He also offered his full support to Maharashtra government, and the CM in his address to the state called for peace and assured all help to migrant workers in the State.
Who is Vinay Dubey?
An activist named Vinay Dubey accused of starting rumours with his social media posts were been charged over a gathering of hundreds at Mumbai’s Bandra station last evening. Dubey, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, runs an NGO called Uttar Bhartiya Maha Panchayat.
Dubey, blamed for provoking migrants with social media posts like ‘Chalo Ghar Ki Ore (let’s move home)’, was arrested from in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday.
In his videos that migrants stuck far from home without jobs or shelter on account of the virus lockdown either have the option of heading home or dying where they are.
His social media post/video reads, “I request that after the lockdown gets over on April 14, the state government arrange trains to UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal. They can be quarantined once they get there... They are desperate here, they will die of hunger, if not from coronavirus...We will wait till 14th or 15th, if government does not do anything, I, Vinay Dubey, will start the journey with those migrants on foot...”
FIR on media correspondent
Bandra police also lodged an FIR against, a television correspondent with a Marathi news channel, for allegedly reporting false news that trains would restart. The news report on the television channel is believed to have been based on a letter written by a South Central Railway official on April 13.