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Hundreds of migrants gather at Bandra railway station, demand transportation to go home

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Migrant workers outside Bandra railway station | ANI
Migrant workers outside Bandra railway station | ANI


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Mumbai: Over 1,000 migrant workers who earn daily gathered here on Tuesday demanding transport arrangements to go back to their native places, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced extension of the coronavirus-enforced lockdown till May 3.

A police official said the migrants were dispersed two hours later and have been assured accommodation and food till the lockdown lasts.

In viral videos, police were seen using mild cane- charge to disperse the migrants, who had gathered near the Bandra railway station in suburban Mumbai.

Daily wage workers have been rendered jobless ever since the lockdown was announced late last month to stem the spread of COVID-19, making their life a constant struggle.

Though authorities and NGOs have made arrangements for their food, most of them want to go back to their native places to escape the hardship brought by the sweeping curbs.

Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said the migrant workers who gathered outside Bandra railway station might have expected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would order reopening of state borders.

They were told by the police that borders are not going to be opened and the situation was now under control, he said, adding the migrants were assured that the state government will make arrangement of food and accommodation for them, following which the crowds dispersed, he said.

State Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray blamed the Centre for the protest by the migrant workers and sought a road map to facilitate their journey back to their native places.

In a series of tweets, Thackeray said, “The current situation in Bandra, now dispersed or even the rioting in Surat is a result of the union government not being able to take a call on arranging a way back home migrant labour.”

“They don’t want food or shelter, they want to go back home,” Thackeray said. He said feedback from all migrant labour camps is similar – that these workers want to go back to their native places.

“Many are refusing to eat or stay in these camps,” he said. Currently, more than six lakh people are housed in various shelter camps across Maharashtra, he added.

Describing the Bandra gathering as an intelligence failure, former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said the government should explain how so many people gathered at a spot despite the lockdown.

According to a police official, daily wage earners, numbering over 1,000, assembled at suburban Bandra (West) bus depot near the railway station and squatted on road at around 3 pm.

The daily wage earners, who reside on rent in slums in in the nearby Patel Nagri locality, were demanding arrangement of transport facilities so that they can go back to their native towns and villages.

They hail from states like West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

One of the labourers, who did not reveal his name, said, NGOs and local residents are providing food to migrant workers, but they want to go back to their native states during the lockdown which has badly affected their source of livelihood.

“Now, we dont want food, we want to go back to our native place, we are not happy with the announcement (extending the lockdown),” he said, looking dejected.

Asadullah Sheikh, who hails from from Malda in West Bengal, said, We have already spent our savings during the first phase of the lockdown. We have nothing to eat now, we just want to go back at our native place, the government should made arrangements for us.

Another labourer, Abdul Kayyun, said I am in Mumbai for last many years but have never seen such a situation. The government should start trains to shift us from here to our native place.”

Hundreds of migrant workers took to the streets of Mumbra town in Thane district on Tuesday, demanding that they be sent to their hometowns in light of the COVID-19 lockdown, which has rendered them jobless.

Workers, mostly from Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, who live in rented accommodations, claimed that houseowners were demanding rent from them and they were unable to procure essentials.

Tuedays’s protests came days after violent protests by migrant workers in Surat who were demanding that they be sent to their native places.


Also read: Homeless with no income, migrant labourers wish they had left Delhi before the lockdown


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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