COVID-19 in Karnataka: Disgruntled migrants v/s State over ‘return to village’ issue

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The Karnataka government which had on Tuesday ordered the stoppage of all trains carrying the migrant labour back to their villages has now yielded to public pressure and has issued orders to permit the migrant workers to return to their villages in the various North Indian states.

Imagine the plight of migrant labourers who are far away from their villages in Koderma, Balia or even Kendrapada, being denied permission to return home after the Union Government had arranged special ‘Shramak Express’ trains? Atleast till today mroning, the scenario was such.

According to media reports, they were also denied salaries for months and were kicked out of their rented accommodations.

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It was on Tuesday that Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa chaired a closed door meeting with various real estate company representatives who requested him to grant permission to resume activities in the state and resolve the issue of labour leaving Bengaluru and returning to their homes in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal among other states.

Karnataka, CM Yediyurappa, NewsMobile, NewsMobile India
Karnataka Cgief Minister BS Yediyurappa (File Image

The Chief Minister’s order to stop migrants leaving the state came soon after. The trains were cancelled and the labourers had no way of leaving the state. According to various estimates, about 2.4 lakh migrants had registered to return home. However, before the CM’s directive, the state government had facilitated the return of about 10,500 people.

What lies ahead?

The State government has finally permitted these vulnerable individuals to return to the comfort of their homes and families.

The conduct of the State government appears to be in clear violation of Articles 21 and 23 of the Indian Constitution.

However, the larger point here is that of livelihoods and dignity of the labour.

The State government has to crack down on various establishments who are denying these labours their hard-earned wages and are exploiting them.

The Labour Department of the state is active in implementing various good governance schemes and should work towards cracking down on establishments, including cancelling their licences for ill-treating the labour.

A society is judged by the way it treats its downtrodden and Karnataka has left a lot to desire in this regard.

Finally, the Police force of the state should also act in accordance with and empathise with the migrant problem.

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