Around 1,000 migrant labourers assembled near a hotel in Mumbai’s Nagpada area on Wednesday, demanding a train for them to return to their hometowns, reported PTI. As more people continued to gather, the police resorted to using force, but eventually arranged three trains for them.

“Hundreds of stranded people, who wanted to go to their hometowns, gathered near hotel Rippon Palace and demanded that a special train be arranged for them to go to their native places,” said an unidentified police officer. Most of the migrant workers, with native places in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, protested that they had run out of money for rent, food and water.

Police officials first attempted to reason with the workers that they were violating the coronavirus-induced lockdown and then began lathicharge after the numbers kept increasing. “A meeting was later held at the Nagpada Police Station, during which the migrants were reassured that trains would be arranged to take them to their native places,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (detection) Shahaji Umap told The Hindu.

Four protestors were taken into custody but later released after a notice was issued to them under provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Two of three trains left with the migrant workers earlier on Wednesday while the third one began its journey at 11 pm.

Umap said that acquiring permissions was time-consuming, adding that people were desperate to return to their hometowns. “...but procedure requires us to collect their information, get the NOCs [no objection certificates] from the state government, apply to the Railway authorities for approval and then arrange for the trains,” he said. “The Railways, too, are burdened with their own limitations.”

Meanwhile, an offence under sections of the Indian Penal Code has been registered. The sections include disobedience of an order promulgated by a public servant, unlawful assembly and negligent act likely to spread infection or disease dangerous to life. Relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act and the recently-amended Epidemic Diseases Act have also been imposed.

The Union health ministry’s Thursday morning update showed that Maharashtra has recorded 25,922 cases of the coronavirus so far and 975 patients have died. On Wednesday, the state recorded its biggest daily increase in the number of coronavirus patients, with 1,495 new cases, and 54 deaths. Mumbai, the worst-affected city in the country, reported 800 of Maharashtra’s 1,495 new cases, taking its total number to 15,747. Forty out of the 54 deaths took place in Mumbai.

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