An overwhelming number of migrant workers outpoured onto the streets of Bandra and Mumbra in Mumbai on Tuesday demanding to go home amidst the nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. An FIR has been lodged against ABP Majha reporter, Rahul Kulkarni, in this regard for misleading people with his false reportage which said that the government is mulling to operate special trains to transport migrant workers.
The ‘news report’ by ABP Majha
Soon after PM Modi yesterday made an announcement that the lockdown in the country will be extended till May 3, 2020, ABP Majha published a report stating that the government is contemplating on running special trains from select zones in Maharashtra so as to alleviate the concerns of the distraught migrants yearning to go home.
Police believe that the baseless news ran by ABP Majha may have spurred the migrants staying in Mumbai to defy lockdown and congregate at a mosque outside the Bandra local station. The assertion made by the ABP Majha that the Railways are planning to launch a rescue operation to evacuate the stranded migrants across Maharashtra was based on a letter written by a South Central Railway official on April 13 on a proposal for Jansadharan special trains.
The chaos at Bandra
While Mumbai is witnessing a sharp uptick in the number of coronavirus cases, a multitude of migrant workers flocked outside the Bandra station, jeopardising the city’s battle against COVID-19. Reacting to the quagmire, Home Minister of Maharashtra, Anil Deshmukh had yesterday posted a tweet saying that strict action will be taken against those who may have fuelled the rumours about trains being operated to take migrants home. He also added that an investigation into the matter has been ordered.
Besides, the Mumbai Police have filed two more FIRs in connection with the massive migrant gathering in Bandra. An FIR has been lodged against 800-1000 people who had gathered at the mosque outside the Bandra station and despite police request did not scatter away. Police had to then resort to baton-charge to disperse the crowd.
Another FIR was lodged against self-proclaimed labour leader Vinay Dubey who had allegedly stoked migrants to start walking towards their native homes. Dubey had shared video blogs and social media posts to invite migrants in numbers. Dubey was arrested from his Navi Mumbai residence and could be produced in court today.
It is notable here that Maharashtra has been the worst-hit by the coronavirus crisis, topping the list of states with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. The state’s capital, Mumbai, has emerged as a hotbed for the virus, which has registered more than 1500 cases from the state total of 2300. In such a scenario, the gathering of thousands of migrant worker at a mosque outside Bandra local station, in defiance to the lockdown restrictions, could catapult the city into further chaos.