As Maharashtra witnesses a resurgent second wave of COVID-19 outbreak, with daily coronavirus caseloads touching a new high, there is a palpable sense of panic set in among the migrant population that was arguably the worst-hit by the pandemic when it started in March last year. There is growing anxiety among the migrant labour in the city as they queue up at various bus stands and railway stations to board buses and trains to get back to their native places before the imposition of an inevitable lockdown.
After braving a tumultuous year, the migrant laborers were back in Mumbai to pick up their lives once again that were upended by the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic. As it turns out, their relief was short-lived as Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra are again under lockdown-like restrictions, in a bid to stop the inexorable spread of the coronavirus.
With new restrictions kicking in today in Maharashtra, migrant workers are queuing up outside railway stations in Mumbai to get out of the city. @Shilparanipeta reports from two of Mumbai's busiest railway stations. pic.twitter.com/lR5xIR3hi6— CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18News) April 6, 2021
Several reports claim that migrant labourers are leaving Mumbai, Pune and other parts of Maharashtra for their native places, fearing a second round of complete lockdown in the state. A large number of migrant workers had flocked to CST and LTT stations in Mumbai to board a train back to their villages before they are stuck in the lockdown. Similar is the condition in Pune, where the hoteliers association claimed that 50 per cent of the migrant workers in the city were planning to go back.
Crusaders who pledged support for migrant crisis remain silent over the migrant exodus in Maharashtra
This exodus of migrant labourers is reminiscent of the catastrophe that was struck last year when millions of migrant workers streamed on the road to hoof it over to their native places. During that time, the media, the journalists and many others went into overdrive to outrage over the central government’s decision of imposing a total lockdown, following which thousands of migrant workers were seen walking on foot to their villages.
Scores of journalists, prominent personalities with left bias had spoken incessantly on this exodus. Many of the privileged journalists and eminent individuals even ran a Twitter campaign “#MeTooMigrant as a mark of solidarity for the migrants and to empathise with their sufferings. Extensive campaigns were run to highlight the plight of the migrant labourers and to force the government to undertake relief measures for them.
By contrast, the exodus that is currently underway in Mumbai, Pune and other parts of Maharashtra has not received as much attention as it deserves. The crusaders who had vowed to fight for the migrant labourers last year have conveniently turned a blind eye to the tribulations suffered by the migrant labourers in Maharashtra.
None of the voices who had passionately slammed the Modi government for the migrant crisis then has voiced their concern on the exodus of migrants now. The migrants are left to fend for themselves as the very people who fell over themselves to champion their cause last year have displayed an eager alacrity to fawn over Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray for his “exceptional” handling of the coronavirus.
Propagandists turn a blind eye to migrant exodus as they praise Uddhav Thackeray for his “exceptional” handling of COVID-19 crisis
As Maharashtra saw an alarming spike in the coronavirus cases, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray convened a press conference last week to announce measures to curb the spread. However, far from announcing any credible action to be taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Thackeray hinted at bringing strict lockdown if the situation persists.
Soon after his address, the left-leaning journalists transformed themselves into cheerleaders of the Maharashtra government, which is beset by difficulties in the wake of the Antilia bomb scare and Rs 100 crores per month vasooli case.
The journalists sang paeans to Uddhav Thackeray, hailing him as a leader who “spoke from his heart”, was “honest” and had “empathy” for the people, even as the coronavirus crisis continued to exacerbate and the state continued to be the top contributor to the total number of caseloads in the country.
Maharashtra is in the throes of a raging coronavirus crisis, with the number of caseloads increasing at an alarming rate. However, the deteriorating situation in the state was a non-issue for the left propagandists as they lavished praises on Uddhav Thackeray for simply conducting a press conference on the COVID-19 crisis.
The left-leaning journalists have also been silent on the striking revelations that have come to the fore in the Sachin Vaze case and the explosive allegations of corruption levelled by the former top cop Param Bir Singh against the former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.
Vaze was embroiled in the Antilia Bomb scare case and the death of Mansukh Hiren, the person whose car laden with explosives was found outside the residence of Mukesh Ambani. Vaze is believed to be close to Shiv Sena and he was restated into the police force after Uddhav Thackeray-led government came into power. It is alleged that Sachin Vaze was involved in the murder of Mansukh Hiren. However, the left-leaning journalists have studiously avoided questioning the Maha Vikas Aghadi government on the issue.
As the case spiralled, the former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh alleged that then Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had asked Sachin Vaze to collect Rs 100 crores per month from business establishments in the city. Even the hotel owners in Mumbai had admitted that they were harassed by Sachin Vaze for extortion. The Supreme Court ordered a CBI inquiry into the allegations and the Maharashtra Home Minister had to submit his resignation. But, instead of seeking accountability from the Maharashtra government, the propagandists were busing lauding the chief minister for organising a press conference.
Just a day after Thackeray’s press conference where he suggested that strict curbs might be enforced and announced the weekend curfews, a report published in Cricbuzz said that the Maharashtra government had granted its permission to the BCCI to go ahead with the scheduled IPL matches in Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium.
The decision sparked outrage amongst netizens who called out the Maharashtra government’s duplicity on placing curbs for local establishments while allowing IPL to continue uninterrupted. However, as expected, the left-leaning journalists and eminent personalities did not see any merit in outraging over the Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s hypocrisy.
Additionally, an investigation was carried out by Mid-day to determine the cause of the disproportionate rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra. The investigation found out gross irregularities on the part of BMC officials deployed at the Mumbai international airport, who reportedly took bribes to let international fliers escape their mandatory quarantine.
Champions of migrant crisis busy in salvaging embattled Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra
However, these incriminating facts did nothing to shake the unwavering devotion of cheerleaders to the Thackeray government. Since the facts that underscore the bungled handling of the Maharashtra government coronavirus outbreak did not cause them to question Uddhav Thackeray, it is profoundly foolish for one to expect that the anguish and agony of the migrant labourers would move the propagandists into holding the Maharashtra government accountable.
In 2020, these propagandists indulged in ‘scavenger activism’, feeding on the sufferings of the helpless migrants, as a cover to slam the Modi government. Their reluctance in taking up the cudgel for the migrant labourers now betrays their actual motive in co-opting the issue. The primary goal, it seems, was to use the issue to paint the Modi government in a bad light and spark a nationwide campaign against the central government. However, as is the case with them usually, their campaign boomeranged as PM Modi emerged out with the highest approval ratings ever since he came to power in 2014.
A year later, in 2021, when the country was on the verge of emerging out of the crisis, only to be pushed back again, as a result of the inept handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in Maharashtra, the leftist vultures now see no merit in outraging over the sufferings of the migrant labourers. Instead, they are now more occupied with salvaging the Maharashtra government that is rapidly circling the drain and facing an existential crisis.