Mumbai

‘Centre to blame for Bandra gathering’

Immediately after hundreds of migrant labourers gathered outside Bandra railway station on Tuesday afternoon demanding that they be sent home at the earliest, State Environment and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray blamed the Union government for not being able to arrange migrant labourers’ return to their villages.

By evening though, Mr. Thackeray said it was a catch-22, and the Centre was assisting the State.

In his earlier tweet, the minister had compared the Bandra incident with the one in Surat, where migrant labourers had similarly hit the streets.

“The current situation at Bandra station, now dispersed, or even the rioting in Surat, is a result of the Union government not being able to take a call on arranging a way back home for migrant labour. They don’t want food or shelter, they want to go back home,” Mr. Thackeray said.

After train services were stopped, the State had requested they be allowed to run for 24 hours more so that migrants could go back home, he said. “CM Uddhav Thackeray raised this issue in the PM-CM video conference as well, requesting a roadmap for migrant labour to reach home,” tweeted the minister.

A mutual road map set by the Union government will largely help migrant labour to reach home from one State to another safely and efficiently, he said. “Time and again, this issue has been raised with the Centre. The law and order situation in Surat has largely been seen as a similar situation and … the feedback from all migrant labour camps is similar. Many are refusing to eat or stay there. Currently, more than 6 lakh people are housed in various shelter camps across Maharashtra,” he said.

Later in the evening, Mr. Thackeray said the Centre had taken immediate cognisance of the issue. “We understand the Catch-22 situation the Centre and States face. I’m thankful to the PM and HM for understanding the situation, while trying to ensure the safety of home States of migrants,” he said on Twitter.

BJP attack

The Bharatiya Janata Party, meanwhile, said the Bandra incident was a result of the State’s inability to provide food and shelter to migrant labourers. “We have been saying this to the State government for many days, but they refused to listen. We hope the government learns a lesson from today’s incident,” said Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis. He said it was unfortunate the Central government was being blamed for the incident.

News clip under scanner

Meanwhile, Yuva Sena leader Varun Sardesai tweeted a video clip from a Marathi news channel which talked about the Centre starting special trains for migrant workers. Mr. Sardesai alleged that the clip resulted in the rumour of outstation trains resuming services, and sought action against the channel.

The Sena’s Rajya Sabha member Priyanka Chaturvedi also demanded action against the channel. “Their Marathi channel runs the story in the morning. Their national channel reports the chaos in the evening. Chronology samajhiye (understand the chronology),” she said in a tweet.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, too, hit out at the news channel for airing a misleading story, accusing it of creating chaos at Bandra. Minority Affairs Minister and NCP’s chief spokesperson Nawab Malik tweeted the news clip and said the possibility of a crowd gathering at Bandra after this news was broadcast cannot be denied.

Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant, meanwhile, blamed the Ministry of Railways. “It is the @RailMinIndia which is completely responsible for today’s chaos. Extreme mismanagement and careless approach has been the epitome of the Modi government. How could they take bookings? Why didn’t they give information of [ticket] cancellation earlier? How could a [news] channel get this letter [on the booking]?” he tweeted, posting photos of the Railways accepting reservations from April 16.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 4:34:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/centre-to-blame-for-bandra-gathering/article31342928.ece

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