Hundreds of workers vandalised the office of a construction site in Surat on Tuesday after the contractors allegedly brought in more labourers from other parts of Gujarat to pace up the work, PTI reported. They complained that the new labourers, who were brought in after getting government permission, might be carrying the coronavirus.
The workers demanded that they be allowed to return to their hometowns if others could be allowed to come to Surat for construction work, Deputy Commissioner of Police Vidhi Chaudhari told the news agency. The migrant workers were engaged in the construction of Diamond Bourse, a diamond exchange.
“The workers got angry after seeing labourers from outside at the site,” she said. “They claimed that these outsiders may be carrying the coronavirus. These workers, then, started demanding that if permission can be granted to bring outsiders here, then why can’t they travel to their native places. This demand triggered the violence.”
Chaudhari said that the workers damaged the administrative office at the construction site and two cars parked close by. “We have started the process of filing a first information report in this connection,” she said.
Surat is a hub of migrant workers in Gujarat and most of them are employed in textiles, power looms and construction sites. In another protest earlier this month, hundreds of migrant workers in the city had come out on roads, demanding wages and transportation arrangements to go back to their hometowns.
The Gujarat government has shifted about 4,500 migrant workers to their native places in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in the last three days, according to PTI.
On April 14, migrant workers had staged a massive protest in neighbouring Maharashtra. Thousands of migrant workers had gathered outside Mumbai’s Bandra to protest against the extended nationwide lockdown. They had also demanded transportation arrangements to go back to their hometowns.
Gujarat has 3,548 cases of the coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Covid-19 has killed 162 people in the state.
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Meanwhile, the Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that there was necessity to move migrant labourers to their hometowns amid the nationwide lockdown, saying that their movement could be a health hazard. The top court, meanwhile, gave the Centre one week to respond to a plea seeking to allow the migrant labourers to return to their hometowns
The number of coronavirus cases in India has risen to 29,974. Covid-19 has killed 937 people in the country.