The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday revised its demands over buses to take migrant workers home and asked the Congress to send 500 buses at each of the state’s border with Delhi in Noida and Ghaziabad, PTI reported. This came a day after Chief Minister Adityanath accepted the party’s offer to run 1,000 buses to bring back migrant labourers stranded in other parts of the country.
In a letter to Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s private secretary, state Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said, “As per your letter dated May 19, you have expressed your inability to provide buses in Lucknow, and want to provide them in Ghaziabad and Noida. Please provide 500 buses to the District Magistrate, Ghaziabad, by 12:00 noon.”
The district magistrate of Ghaziabad will receive all the buses and utilise them, Singh said. The buses should be provided at Kaushambi and Sahibabad bus stands. Additionally, the Uttar Pradesh government demanded that 500 more buses should be provided to the district magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar at the ground near the Expo Mart.
Gandhi’s private secretary Sandeep Singh responded with a confirmation that buses would reach the specified locations by 5 pm on Tuesday, ANI reported. “Please keep a list of passengers and route map ready to ensure smooth coordination” Singh added.
This is the second letter of correspondence exchanged between the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state and the Congress.
Initially, the government had demanded the party should hand over all the buses, along with the fitness certificates and driving licences of all drivers, to authorities at Lucknow by 10 am. The demands were reportedly communicated to Gandhi in an email sent late on Monday night.
In return, Gandhi’s office accused the Uttar Pradesh government of making “politically motivated” demands that reveal the government’s apathy and lack of conviction to help the migrant workers stranded at the state borders.
In a letter to Additional Chief Secretary Avneesh Kumar Awasthi, Singh accused the government of lending political overtones to a humanitarian crisis.“In a situation when thousands of workers are walking on the streets and thousands of people have gathered at the UP border at various registration centres, sending 1,000 empty buses to Lucknow is not only a waste of time and resources but is also inhuman and the product of an anti-poor mindset,” Singh said in the letter in Hindi.
The party reportedly further provided details of all 1,000 buses and drivers as asked for. “Out of them, a few drivers will be reverified and those details will also be mailed to you in a few hours,” Singh said. “I hope you will give permission for those buses to ply as soon as possible.”
Gandhi had appealed to Adityanath to let her party arrange for buses, in light of the rising instances of migrants’ deaths in the country. “Our buses are standing at the border,” Gandhi tweeted. “Thousands of labourers and migrants are walking towards their homes without food or water and after fighting all troubles. Let us help them. Give permission to our buses.”
The Congress sourced the buses from Rajasthan, where the party is in power, according to NDTV. After the Uttar Pradesh government accepted the party’s offer, Gandhi thanked Adityanath and said the Congress “will stand with these people during the difficult time they face”.
Left without means of sustenance, migrant workers have been forced to return home with their families. Many undertook long journeys on foot, bicycles or holed up in trucks. Many have died along the way and some have died in accidents.
On Saturday, 24 migrants were killed and several injured after the truck they were travelling in collided with another one in Uttar Pradesh’s Auriya district. The deaths sparked an outrage. On Sunday, the Uttar Pradesh government closed its border for migrants who were journeying on foot, cycles or trucks. Instead, Adityanath said his government will give them shelter and provide buses for their journey.
Uttar Pradesh police officials at the border told Scroll.in that they had received orders not to let anyone enter the state on foot or on bicycle. They said that no buses had left Delhi for Uttar Pradesh since Sunday morning. However, by the next morning, a swarming sea of thousands of workers gathered near the state’s borders in anticipation of the buses.