MIGRANT LABOUR CRISIS
Updated: Feb 6
Ritika Gupta, II year of B.A.,LL.B, from The Law School, Jammu University
We have nothing to offer them,
Except digestive biscuits;
Won’t it make them thirsty?
We have nothing to offer them
Except some five hundred rupees
And get embarrassed
As they answered
Sir it won’t help!!
Authorities have nothing to offer them
Except false hope
How fast they walk on hearing a rumor
That there would be a bus!
Nothing you can say matters,
You get diminished
You get humble
By the awe of
You lived in, locked in, in your home, with your family, with your loved ones. This is the story of 3 lockdowns for you. But what about those who are still seem walking? Evicted by their landlords and chasing their will to survive. They have no choice but
‘A journey laden with horror
And destination too far for many.’
FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2014, INDIAN POORS ARE GETTING IGNORED BY OUR PRIME MINISTER MODI. For the first time, they are questioning our Prime minister; why their big brother and father like figure has abandoned them on roads? They have some genuine questions in their mind which the government unfortunately refuses to answer;
When can I go home?
When can I meet my mother?
She is scared!!
They only demanded authorities to arrange some transport and food and the police instead of giving them food and transport, has beaten them brutally irrespective of their age and helplessness!
‘’MORE THAN HUNGRY
They are hurt!!”
A LONG ROAD TO HOME
IT’S HEARTBREAKING TO SEE THOSE PAINFUL PHOTOS WHERE PREGNANT LADIES HOLDING A CHLID IN ONE HAND AND HOLDING THEIR LUGGAGE WITH OTHER, IN SCORCHING HEAT WITH EMPTY STOMACH AND INJURED FEET WALKING TOWARDS THEIR HOME. A small girl barefooted carrying her brother on her shoulder and nothing but paying the price of being poor. A helpless father sitting on an empty road answering a call and his eye breaks into tears on hearing the death of his son out of hunger when he was only 1200kms left to reach there. But what’s more heartbreaking than that is many videos circulating on social media. While reading all about this I read about this news;
Boys who were going home on foot in Gwalior were made to crawl on roads by cops in a video from Badaun, Uttar Pradesh. Instead of helping cops make them crawl with heavy bags on their shoulders and hands on the scorching hot roads. The video is shared by journalist Zeba warsi and included in the article of news.com
This is only a single incident; there are many more dreadful incidents taking place under the flyovers and on the highways of Maharashtra , Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.They have no choice to isolate them from this deadly virus.They are just walking and walking with no food wondering how will they reach their destination. As the Indian journal of medical ethics says,
“THE ACT EMPHASISES THE POWER OF THE GOVERNMENT
BUT IT IS SILENT ON THE RIGHTS OF CITIZENS.”
These problems are not of some hundred people, there are more than 40 million migrant laborers across the country.
Is this real?
In the middle of collapsing world a young kid is resting on his back wearing his headphones;
And a young kid with luggage on his head with empty stomach and scratched feet,
Giving a florescent smile.
When some are baking cake
And some have their life on stake.
Is it real?
So typically India.
There had been rumors of train services restarting and the workers had gathered at Bandra, defying rules of social distancing putting themselves and others at risk. In western state of Gujarat, a hundred textile workers at Surat , demanding passage home. In Delhi, several hundred migrants were discovered living under a bridge along Yamuna and the rubbish. The men were unwashed and said they had not eaten since past three days.
These all incidents put light on their helplessness, sufferings and how lockdown has left them stranded far away from home, with no food and no roof.
Right to live with dignity
It not merely means animal existence but to live a life of dignity. Mercilessly, beating the poor, sit ups from aged people and humiliating them in public exploits their right to live a life of dignity. Arbitrarily punishing people publically, making them ashamed, ordering aged people to raise hands, to do sit ups and to crawl on streets. It’s heart- wrenching. As it is perfectly quoted;
‘The Indian police must understand that corona virus
Cannot be beaten with a lathi.’
Why not we hear the stories or news of rich people get beaten, humiliated or doing sit ups at roads? Why is this humiliation always for poor? Just like the police officers are frustrated, these people are not only fighting every day from the virus but also for their food, and the situations got worse for them when they had no choice except to face this exploitation.
The biggest discomfort is not the fatigue
Not wounds and bruises
But their shoes
That have left no glue.”
Right to food
Isn’t it ironical that some are getting sanitized food and some are not even getting food? They are getting difficulty in procuring food as their ration card was from their home states. The one who offer to give them some biscuits and food clicks pictures and post them on their all handles to get money for their blogs, channels or accounts. For people like them; this is a very cheap tactics to earn; let the news channels do their job and before posting pictures of you giving them food think about your own daughter?
How would she feel if she sees her own father begging for food? How would you as a father feel if you see your daughter’s picture begging for food get published?
Giving them four biscuits,
You click hundred photos
Who is the poor?
Right to livelihood
How can anyone survive without earning? In the time of the crisis we should help those laborers as much as we can by offering them food and if possible some shelter or money.
Right to privacy
When their photos and videos are blindly shared at social media their privacy get exploited. Not only the photos and videos, confidential list curated by the government containing personal details of722 passengers was forwarded on WhatsApp and facebook. After the privacy breach the government agencies started passing blame on each other. Publishing their name on social media because they were out in streets and uploading photos and videos of the laborers going home on foot , publically posting videos of seizing shops; humiliating shopkeepers and exploiting them because it’s 5:20pm and the order is only up to 5pm. Won’t they have a family? Won’t they get disturbed? Won’t their kids receive mass hate seeing their own father’s photo and video of seizing his shop? To share those videos and photos seems funny and interesting to some but once you consider yourself in their foot the whole situation get transparent.
The Dark phase of The Supreme Court
In response to the PIL seeking to direct the center to transfer wages to the accounts of migrants in shelter homes, CJI Bobde asked “If they are being provided meals, then why do they need money for the meals?” The supreme court did not dual over survey report by The Hindu claiming that 96%migrant workers did not get rations from the government and 90% did not receive wages during lockdown. Another PIL that says misery of thousands of migrants who were walking long distances seeking urgent directions to all DMs across India to identify walking laborers and to ensure that they reach their native places in a dignified manner. To which supreme court says; “It was not possible for the court to monitor who is walking and not walking.’’3 days before The Aurangabad incident the SC had disposed of a PIL seeking directions to permit migrant workers to return to their native places by trains or buses without charges.
THE AURANGABAD INCIDENT
The incident where 16 migrant workers were crushed to death by a goods train when they were attempting to make their way to Aurangabad. They were walking along the railway track to avoid being beaten and thrashed by the police on roads and with the knowledge that trains are not running. The migrants worked at a private steel company in jalna in Maharashtra and had not been paid since the first lockdown (24 march). No doubt, this incident wrenches our heart but I heard many of my friends and see many posts on social media that why would they sleep on railway tracks? My question to them all is
Do you really think they had a choice?
We can’t even imagine exactly their efforts, pain and suffering. Not only India’s heart pains seeing their sufferings, but the world is talking about this. IVANKA TRUMP, daughter of Donald trump tweeted about the 15-year-old girl Jyoti Kumari who carried her injured father to their home village covering more than 1200 km over 7 days. Union minister of state for health and family welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey said; ‘He is mulling to make Jyoti Brand ambassador of India.’
“THIS BEAUTIFUL FEET OF ENDURANCE CAPTURED THE REALITY OF THE SUFFERING
THE BRUTALITY AND EXPLOITATION BY NATURE, LUCK AND LAW
AND DETERMINED THE GRACE, STRENGTH AND NATION OF INDIAN POOR.”
How can we so cruel to them? Even when we don’t know how long this pandemic prevails. How can we force them to stay with no money, no food and no roof on them? How can we ignore them for more than a month?
Like them these questions also got unanswered.