Migrant labourers who returned to Uttar Pradesh were sprayed with a disinfectant upon their entry to Bareilly. A video of officials dressed in protective gear and spraying the disinfectant on the workers who are squatting on the road has gone viral on social media.

“The migrants were sprayed with a mix of chlorine and water,” an official involved with the exercise was quoted as saying by NDTV. “No chemical solution was used. We asked them to keep their eyes shut.”

However, the District Magistrate of Bareilly informed in a tweet that the disinfectant was meant to sanitise buses and not people. “The Municipal Corporation of Bareilly and the fire brigade were asked to sanitise the buses, but out of extra caution, they sprayed the disinfectant on the workers too. Instructions to take action against those responsible have been given,” the magistrate said.

An officer from the fire department also said that the chemical was meant to be sprayed on metal surfaces and not on humans.

The officer also said that the chemical used for sanitisation was sodium hypochlorite, commonly called bleach. The sanitisation exercise has been undertaken by the Municipal Corporation of the city and is carried out using vehicles of the fire department.

These workers reached Uttar Pradesh from Delhi, Haryana, and Noida in special buses arranged for them. Migrant labourers across the country set off for their hometowns on foot after the transport services were shut due to the lockdown. After the distressing news of the workers walking hundreds of km to reach home spread, the Uttar Pradesh government arranged special buses to ferry the migrants stranded in Noida, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahar, and Aligarh, among other places.