At least 1,000 migrant workers in Gujarat’s Surat district clashed with the police on Saturday, demanding that they be sent back home, ANI reported. The police deployed additional force and arrested over 60 people. Another 60 have been detained.
A similar incident had occurred earlier this week in Surat city. The police had to use teargas to disperse the workers after they reportedly pelted stones.
On Saturday, the migrant workers gathered at Mora village near the industrial town of Hazira and staged a protest demanding that the district administration arrange for their travel back home to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha, among other states, PTI reported.
Surat Joint Commissioner of Police DN Patel told ANI that around 500 to 1,000 people gathered at the site around 8 am. “Reasonable force was used,” he said. “Around 55 to 60 were arrested, and 50 to 60 have also been detained.”
Surat is a hub of migrant workers in Gujarat and most of them are employed in textiles, power looms and construction sites. The nationwide lockdown put in place during the coronavirus pandemic started on March 25 and has now been extended till May 17. The lockdown has left scores of migrant labourers stranded across the country, and many started walking home. Some also died along the way, and others were forced to return after the state borders were shut.
The Centre is now running ‘Shramik Special’ trains to help migrant labourers reach home. However, many are still walking back home. On Friday, at least 16 migrant labourers were killed after a cargo train ran over them in the state’s neighbouring Maharashtra. The exhausted migrants, who had been walking along the rail tracks, had fallen asleep on the tracks.
Gujarat has 7,402 cases of the coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Covid-19 has killed 449 people in the state.