Mumbai: Unhappy with lockdown extension, thousands protest at Bandra station
Mumbai, one of the worst coronavirus-hit cities in India, witnessed a massive protest on Tuesday by migrant workers who demanded transport arrangements to return to their native places after PM Narendra Modi extended the nation-wide lockdown till May 3. Defying the social distancing norm and lockdown restrictions, thousands gathered outside the Bandra railway station to protest the extension of the lockdown. Here's more.
"Today at 4 pm, around 1,500 people gathered at Bandra railway station premises. Many of them were migrant laborers," said Mumbai Police PRO, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Pranaya Ashok. "They were unhappy with the extension of the lockdown and wanted to go back to their homes. They had placed their demand before administration," he added.
Visuals of the protest show the police lathi-charging the crowd to disperse the protestors. DCP Ashok said, "Local police officials went to the spot...and tried to convince them." "A section of the crowd turned violent, so light force had to be used to bring them under control. The crowd was dispersed. Police is deployed there. The situation is normal and peaceful," he said.
The Mumbai Police is also investigating how such a large number of people could assemble at the Bandra railway station premises, contravening the lockdown regulations. Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray and expressed concern over the migrant workers' protest, stressing that such incidents would weaken India's fight against coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray has blamed the Center for the protest by migrant workers in Mumbai. He tweeted, "The current situation at Bandra Station, now dispersed... is a result of the Union Govt not being able to take a call on arranging a way back home for migrant labour. They don't want food or shelter, they want to go back home."
"A mutual road map set by Union Govt will largely help migrant labour to reach home from one state to another safely and efficiently. Time and again this issue has been raised with the Centre," Aaditya wrote in another tweet.
The current situation at Bandra Station, now dispersed or even the rioting in Surat is a result of the Union Govt not being able to take a call on arranging a way back home for migrant labour. They don’t want food or shelter, they want to go back home— Aaditya Thackeray (@AUThackeray) April 14, 2020
The protest by migrant workers, who have been hit the hardest by the nationwide lockdown, comes on a day India witnessed a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases. Over 1,400 COVID-19 positive cases were registered in the country on Tuesday, pushing the total number of cases past 10,000. Meanwhile, the number of fatalities has increased to 353.