Use Central forces to send migrants home safely, petition urges PM

Among the 4,000 signatories are retired judges, civil servants and eminent academics

Updated - May 28, 2020 03:33 pm IST

Published - May 28, 2020 03:32 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Migrant workers from other States trying to return to their homes wait for transportation. File

Migrant workers from other States trying to return to their homes wait for transportation. File

An online petition signed by over 4,000 people, including many retired justices, bureaucrats and academics, on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deploy Central forces to ensure that migrant workers stranded across the country reach their homes safely and in a dignified manner.

Full coverage: Lockdown displaces lakhs of migrants

The petition, started by the Working People’s Charter and Aajeevika Bureau on Wednesday, had been signed by 4,328 people when sent to the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday.

Terming the situation of migrant workers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic an unprecedented “humanitarian crisis”, the petition stated: “The predicament of our internal migrant workers has only deteriorated with each passing day. Instances of police brutality, infighting over resources at shelters, harassment on interstate borders, starvation, illnesses, and rail and road accidents are only escalating every day.”

The petition said that while the government had started the Shramik Special trains, these were inadequate, given the number of workers affected.

Also read: Coronavirus lockdown | Migrant workers returning to Bihar jump off trains to flee isolation

The petition asked the Centre to take “leadership and responsibility for transporting millions of interstate migrants who are stranded or are en route home in the aftermath of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown”.

It said the government should deploy Central forces in coordination with the State governments as per provisions of the National Disaster Management Act, 2005. The Vande Bharat Mission, which is organising international flights to bring back stranded Indians, was a good example of Indians being transported back home safely.

“Surely, a similar mission can be undertaken to transport migrant workers back to their rural homes,” it stated.

Among the signatories were the retired justices of the Allahabad High Court, Het Singh Yadav and Janardhan Sahai; former Planning Commission members, Abhijit Sen and Syeda Hameed; former Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung; and ex-IAS officers Vibha Puri Das, Sujatha Rao and Keshav Desiraju.

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