Migrant Workers’ woes: Please address the nation to assuage their fear, Dear Prime Minister

To

Shri Narendra Modi

Honourabe Prime Minister of India

Respected Modi Jee,

You have received accolades from the World Health Organisation, the opposition party leaders and from several other quarters for your statesman-like approach in dealing with the emergency situation arising out of the threat from the COVID – 19. I, as an ordinary citizen, also congratulate you for your swift and decisive action in calling for a complete lockdown for 21 days to fight the deadly virus. We all witness how people responded to your call during the Janata Curfew last Sunday and it was in fact a great success. This is so, as the people of the country love you and trust in your leadership!

Today is the fifth day of the nation-wide lockdown. Many issues have come up, and they are in expected lines. But the issue of migrant workers is unprecedented at this juncture. Imagine a six-month pregnant woman is now walking from Delhi to Jhansi with her family, a distance of approximately 500 kilometers (Source: NDTV, 28 March 2020. Will she possibly reach her home with no food, no or scant water and fast-rising temperature? And what the ‘yet-to-be-born baby’ eat during its mother’s painful journey?

Delhi houses about twenty lakh migrants, many of who are walking on the road back to their hometowns or villages in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere. This is despite the appeal by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal not to leave Delhi and assurance to feed all the 20-lakh migrants during the lockdown. A similar scenario is witnessed in other parts of the country too. There are also many who have not left their current places of stay obeying your request. Lack of food for the migrants at the source of work is just one reason. The reasons of their attempt to coming back to their native places are multiple: a. They have lost their job for now at least, the prime reason for which they migrate, b. many do not have money in their hands, c. many are not allowed by the local police to go out to buy ration, d. they are being demanded house rent by the landlords or are being driven out, e. they are also worried about their old parents back in their villages and small towns. So, the reasons are a mix of hard realities and emotional factors.

We as a nation cannot forgive ourselves if lives are lost due to hunger and this kind of hardship during the lockdown. You may know that we have already lost one countryman who was walking from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh. The home ministry has issued orders to all chief secretaries to make all possible arrangements for the migrants and the UP Chief Minister has made transport arrangements to take home the stranded migrants, so on and so forth.

But the enormity of the problem demands that you, as the Prime Minister, appeal to people through your address to the nation.

Your oratory skill blended with hard facts and emotional appeal is unparalleled. I am sure if you directly address the migrant workers to refrain from going home, to the landlords to threat them as own family members in these times of crisis and waive the rent for a month, and to the employers not to terminate their jobs and give them some advance money, that will definitely help mitigate the situation.

Simultaneously, it is necessary to convene the meeting with all the Chief Ministers through video conferencing and chalk out the strategy to deal with the situation. All the states should take steps to feed the migrants – the children, men, and women – many of who may be walking on the highways, roads, etc and give them asylum wherever they are. And very importantly, please appeal the police personnel in your address to humanely treat the migrant workers and not treat them with heavy hands. Simultaneously, let’s also acknowledge that the Police across the country are doing a commendable job in ensuring the lockdown risking their own lives.

The situation also demands, Pradhan Mantri Jee, that you directly address people once in two or three days conveying them the situation and appeal them not to panic.

I strongly believe that together the country will successfully sail through this phase!

Yours Sincerely,

Pradeep Baisakh

Citizen of India


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One Comment

  1. The officials’ behaviour and their gross dereliction of duty regarding the migrant workers and allowing things to be like the great migrations on partition of the country during 1947-1948 is unpardonable after the announncement of lockdown. The consequences should have been anticipated in this critical juncture. The intelligence community in the US(CNN ) and presumably here had an inkling of this pandemic three years ago! Quarantine has now been mandated for this huge migrant population! Hope the lockdown will buy an armed truce.