The Gujarat High Court on Thursday asked the state government to file an affidavit on the recent attacks on migrant workers from other states after admitting a petition seeking action against those responsible and the state personnel for failing to protect them, The Indian Express reported. Lawyer and social activist Khemchand Koshti had filed the public interest litigation.
Koshti accused the government and the director general of police, who are respondents in the petition, of “not taking preventive measures to prevent such incidents”. He said the government did not provide “proper protection/security to the migrants who are residing in the state from many years, have integrated themselves into the culture and ethos of the state while earning their livelihood...”
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has blamed Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor and his outfit, the Kshatriya-Thakor Sena, for the violence, which has led to an exodus of more than 60,000 Hindi-speaking people so far. Koshti, however, claimed that more than two lakh migrants have fled the state.
Violence against migrant workers was reported from six districts in the northern part of the state after a native of Bihar was arrested for allegedly raping a 14-month-old girl from the Thakor community in Sabarkantha district on September 28. After the arrest, a video emerged in which Thakor is purportedly seen making a speech against migrant workers.
Thakor, who has denied instigating the violence against the migrants, on Thursday began a day-long fast in Ahmedabad on Thursday to promote “peace and harmony”, PTI reported. The Congress leader admitted that “someone may have said something” against migrants, but claimed the real culprits were those who had politicised the entire matter.
“I am not at all into spreading hatred,” Thakor said at the venue of the fast. “I am not that kind of person. We [Thakor community] are pure at heart. It is possible that someone may have said something [against migrants] but we do not harbour any grudge against anyone. We never indulge in violence.”
He said Gujarat’s image should not get tarnished. “No one is migrant...the word itself is wrong,” he added. “I think some people are politicising the issue. This is an attempt to break the country. Dividing people in the name of states is something I or my people will never do.”
On Tuesday, Thakor condemned the violence against the migrant workers but claimed they were going home ahead of next month’s Chhath festival.