After the tragedy in Auraiya where 24 migrant workers who were travelling back home were killed in a road accident, Ghaziabad district administration and police officers have been on alert to direct people to nearby shelters.
Ever since the lockdown to control the spread of Covid-19 was announced on March 24, millions of migrant workers, who are mostly daily wage earners, have been attempting to go back to their home towns and villages. While many walked great distances, others managed to get on trucks since the curbs were relaxed for the third phase of the lockdown that began on May 4. Ghaziabad, border district with Delhi, turned out to be a hotbed for migrant labourers attempting to make their way into other areas of Uttar Pradesh and even Bihar.
Of late the Uttar Pradesh government had been attempting to ferry workers on buses and trains. But for those who did not get tickets or if the buses and trains did not go to their intended destination, trucks were their next option.
On Saturday morning, on national highway-9, migrant workers were seen boarding trucks. However, following the chief minister’s orders, police and administrative officers started ferrying all those they could find on the road to the nearest shelters.
Migrant workers like Dharmendra Kumar along with his family members were brought to Sukh Sagar Farm House, which is now turned to a shelter, in Kavi Nagar Industrial Area on Saturday afternoon.
Kumar arrived from Wazirpur Industrial Areas in Delhi.
“I had heard that we can get lift in truck from Ghaziabad’s Lal Kuan in order to go to our hometown, Pratapgarh in UP. My wife is six months pregnant and we have two minor children besides my old aged mother with me. At Lal Kuan we waited for trucks but could not gather courage to board as it was stuffed with other workers. My wife said that she would not be able to take up such a travel,” he said.
“So we waited there for another truck or any buses but cops arrived and brought us to the shelter home in a bus,” he added.
Other workers like Lalu Yadav, who is native of Mahagama in the state of Jharkhand, were also picked up by cops and taken to shelter home.
“I along with 50 other construction workers were walking to NH-9 from Razapur where we work. We are sitting without work for past two months. Some of my colleagues gave an idea that we should board some truck from NH-9 to our hometown. When we reached near the highway, the cops nabbed us and brought us to the shelter home,” Yadav added.
For past one week the UP State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) has stepped up despatch of their buses to different parts of UP.
“The buses are now going almost everyday and also as per demand. In about past week or so we have despatched about 600 buses to different parts of UP with an average seating of about 35 passengers per bus,” said AK Singh, regional manager of UPSRTC.
On Saturday, divisional commissioner Anita C Meshram and inspector general (Meerut Range) Praveen Kumar, also arrived to Ghaziabad and inspected the shelters besides giving directions to local officials.
“The directions are clear from the state administration that no one will be travelling afoot or by any trucks. The migrant workers will be brought to shelter homes and proper arrangement of water, food, etc. is being done. The police have been given clear instructions and any travel by truck has been stopped. They will be sent by buses or train with proper social distancing,” Meshram said.
In a late night development, the SHO of the Indirapuram police station was suspended by state officials and an explanation was sought on the matter from the circle officer.
Police officials said 16 migrant workers who were in the vehicle that met an accident at Auraiya had boarded the vehicle from the jurisdiction of the Indirapuram police station in Ghaziabad.
“All 16 migrant workers had boarded the vehicle from Indirapuram police station area, the workers later told investigation officers. All of the 16 persons are safe. However, in light of this, officials have directed for the suspension of the Indirapuram SHO while an explanation has been sought from the circle officer of the area,” said Manish Mishra, superintendent of police (city).
District magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey did not respond to calls.
SSP Kalanidhi Naithani said that directions are being complied with and buses have been roped in by the district officials to migrant workers to different shelters.
“We are ensuring that no one travels afoot or by trucks. The migrants who are in shelter homes are sent by buses while those who have train bookings are travelling by train. With all the available resources we are trying best to secure 49 border points besides deployment over roads and hotspot areas.We are also ensuring that no accident like incident happens with any workers,” he added.
Awanish Awasthi, UP’s additional chief secretary (home), said that CM has taken cognisance of the incident in Auraiya.
“The instructions from CM are clear that no migrant workers should be travelling afoot or by any unsafe transport like trucks, etc. Travel by buses and trains are free of cost. The border districts have been told to take details and screen workers who arrive at borders. Every border district has been told to make arrangement for 200 buses for the purpose of their travel,” Awasthi, said.
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