More than 12,000 migrant workers have returned from Haryana, a majority of them on Sunday, the Uttar Pradesh government said today, adding that nearly 350 buses are being run to ferry them from the state border to their home districts. The government's statement came four days after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held talks with the Haryana government about their return.
For Uttar Pradesh, this is the second round of bringing back migrants from other states. The first round took place days after lockdown started, when 4 lakh migrants were brought home.
Migrant labourers -- mostly from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal -- have been stranded across the country since the lockdown was announced on March 25 by Prime Minister Narenadr Modi. Their desperate effort to return home on foot was brought to an abrupt halt after the Central government said it would defeat the purpose of the lockdown and ordered the states to seal borders.
With the lockdown already been extended once and a high chance of another extension in the hotspots, Uttar Pradesh decided to bring them home. Its decision has raised hackles in neighbouring Bihar, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has made his reservations known.
"Since Saturday, over 12,000 migrant workers have returned from Haryana, 9,992 migrants returned on Sunday," said Awanish Awasthi, the state's Additional Chief Secretary. The migrant workers who have been brought back to Uttar Pradesh so far have been placed in quarantine centres at their home districts.
"The Chief Minister has learnt that many students are stuck in Prayagraj. They are from Uttar Pradesh. Three hundred buses will be pressed into service to send them to different UP districts," Mr Awasthi said.
After Haryana, Maharashtra is also considering sending migrant labourers to their home states. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has assured migrants that plans are being drawn up for this.
"Maharashtra was discussing the issue with other states and the Centre… Whether it is Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, we will cooperate with each other and get this done," Mr Thackeray said. Plans are also being drawn to bring students from Maharashtra who have been stranded in Rajasthan's Kota as well, he added.