- Migrant workers today gathered at Mumbai's Bandra station to go home
- Though police dispersed them, it is a matter of concern amidst pandemic
- Uddhav Thackeray said it happened due to rumours spread by people
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has said the gathering by migrant labourers in Bandra took place because of people spreading rumours. Defying the lockdown against coronavirus, the labourers had gathered hoping to go home as the countrywide lockdown was extended for another two weeks. The matter ended with police using force to disperse the crowd - a matter of concern in a city where coronavirus figures have touched 1,700.
Sources told NDTV that the crowd planned to leave expecting that trains would resume. A message that a train would be available was something locals mentioned. The police said they are still verifying the claim that a fake message was circulated.
Mr Thackeray said the people had gathered because "someone said something". Warning against rumour mongering, he said, "Don't play with their (the people's) emotions. They are poor people. I warn you, don't play with their emotions".
Assuring the people, he said, "We are with you. You are safe. I am speaking with the Centre. We are taking care of you. A lockdown is not like being locked up".
Mr Thackeray's government has denied that the migrant labourers were trying to go home as they did not have enough to eat in the financial capital.
A top police officer described the situation as hordes of people taking an "emotional decision" rather than a rational one out of fear.
After lockdown was declared the first time by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month, thousands of migrant labourers had hit the streets hoping to walk it home if necessary. Most said they were unsure of getting enough to eat or a roof over their heads in a big city.
There were reports of landlords asking labourers to vacate the premises - for which the Centre banned eviction during the lockdown period. Employers were also told not to lay off workers and pay them in full for this period.