The Uttar Pradesh government has brought back over 12,000 labourers who were stranded in Haryana amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, PTI reported on Monday.

“Chief Minister Adityanath has already issued directions that labourers belonging to Uttar Pradesh, who are working in other states and have completed 14 days of quarantine, should be brought back,” Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Awasthi told reporters in Lucknow. “A total of 12,216 labourers were brought back from Haryana in 410 buses by Sunday evening.”

Awasthi added that the labourers were being sent to their respective districts in 394 buses.

He also said the state government has started the process of repatriating over 9,000 students living in Allahabad to their homes in a phased manner. “The students, including those preparing for various competitive exams, will be sent back to homes in 300 buses in three phases,” he said. “If state governments of other states want to take back their students [studying in Prayagraj] to their respective states, it will be permitted.”

On April 17, the Adityanath government had sent 250 buses to Rajasthan’s Kota city to bring back stranded students amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier in the day, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar castigated states for evacuating students from Kota while interacting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, NDTV reported. He also questioned why migrant workers should be allowed to move between state borders.

“If five people come on the road and make demands, then should the government buckle,” he asked. “Is this the way governments run?”

Kumar also reportedly read out a page from the Disaster Management Act, which bans interstate movement of vehicles and people except for extreme medical emergencies. “We are implementing this order and violation of this is illegal, but several states have taken the liberty to bring back students and migrants with impunity, so please have a uniform policy,” he added. “10,000 students were brought out of Kota, which put a lot of pressure on states.”

The chief minister said he did not have the resources to arrange transportation facilities for students and migrants. However, he added that he would not interfere if the Centre allowed movement and ensured that those entering Bihar were medically examined.

The Supreme Court on Monday gave the Centre one week to respond to a plea seeking to allow migrant labourers to return to their hometowns. The Ministry of Home Affairs has also prepared a report that said there was a significant hazard that allowing migration of labourers will spread Covid-19 in rural areas, which have so far been largely insulated from the virus. “The country is dealing with an unprecedented situation and any lapse at any end by anyone may result in loss of precious human lives,” the report added.

The number of patients across India reached 28,380, including 886 deaths, on Friday evening. This marked an increase of 1,463 new cases and 60 deaths – the highest single-day jump ever – in the last 24 hours.

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