A group of migrant workers in Gujarat’s Surat city clashed with the police on Monday, demanding that they be sent back home, ANI reported. The police had to use teargas to disperse the workers when they reportedly started throwing stones at them.

The migrants workers had gathered outside a market in Vareli on the outskirts of Surat, according to NDTV. The police were called in to pacify the crowd. The police had to call in reinforcements.

The incident comes a week after hundreds of workers vandalised the office of a construction site in the city after the contractors allegedly brought in more labourers from other parts of Gujarat to pace up the work. The workers said that if others could be allowed to come to Surat for construction, they should be allowed to return home.

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 last 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 government has now allowed special ‘Shramik’ trains to transport stranded migrant workers to their native places. So far, 31 trains have transported migrant workers and more are expected to run over the next 15 days.

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A political row has erupted over the government charging migrant workers for the train travel. Congress President Sonia Gandhi said that her party’s state units will pay for their travel. The Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, claimed that the Ministry of Railways has subsidised the fare of train tickets for migrant workers by 85% and state governments have been asked to pay the remaining sum of 15% on their behalf.

Gujarat has reported 5,428 cases of the coronavirus and 290 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Across India, 42,836 cases have been reported and 1,389 people have died.

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