Stranded Migrants, Students, Tourists Can Go Home During Lockdown: 10 Points

The order from the home ministry asked the states to appoint nodal bodies and draw up protocols for the migrants' movement.

Among the stranded, those found asymptomatic would be allowed to proceed. (File)

Highlights

  • Those found asymptomatic would be allowed to proceed: Centre
  • Buses will be allowed for interstate movement of people, the order read
  • Social distancing rules should be maintained in the seating arrangements
New Delhi: Migrant labourers, students, pilgrims or tourists who do not have symptoms of coronavirus can return to their home states now, the Centre has said, issuing a set of guidelines nearly five weeks after the announcement of the countrywide lockdown that left thousands stranded. The order comes a day after the Centre was asked to respond to issue by the Supreme Court, which was hearing a set of petitions asking that migrant labourers who do not have COVID-19 be allowed to go home. The Centre has already allowed Uttar Pradesh to ferry back its migrants from Haryana a move that led states like Bihar and Jharkhand to question its lockdown guidelines that that froze road, rail and air transport and asked states not allow homebound migrants laboures across their borders.

Here are the top 10 developments in this coronavirus story:

  1. In its order, the home ministry asked states to appoint nodal bodies and draw up protocols for the movement of stranded people. "The moving person(s) would be screened and those found asymptomatic would be allowed to proceed," the government said. After arriving at their destination, they will have to stay in home quarantine for 14 days, unless institutional quarantine is advised, the order said.

  2. Buses will be allowed for the interstate movement of the people and they should be sanitised between trips, the order read. The rules of social distancing should be maintained in the seating arrangements.

  3. The order comes less than a week before the lockdown is scheduled to end. On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a fourth video-conference with Chief Ministers of around 10 states, where an exit plan from the lockdown was discussed.Several states, including Punjab and Bengal, have however said they need to extend the lockdown in view of the coronavirus situation.

  4. Sources said the decision to allow stranded people to go home came after pressure from within the BJP. There were concerns that the migrant crisis could damage the party politically and feedback to this effect was given to party chief JP Nadda during a virtual meeting with MPs and MLAs.

  5. On Monday, the Centre told the Supreme Court that it was "very much concerned" about migrant labourers. "The government is consulting with states on how many have to be transported … We are taking all kind of steps," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said.

  6. Uttar Pradesh became the first state to take action, transferring more than 12,000 migrant workers from Haryana over the weekend. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said he was also planning to bring back students who have been stranded in Rajasthan's Kota, a city known for coaching centres catering to aspirants for all kinds of competitive exams.

  7. Yogi Adityanath's move has upset neighbouring Bihar and Jharkhand. A BJP ally, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his government maintain such largescale movement of people is completely against the principles of social distancing and lockdown, which alone can contain coronavirus at the moment. Many of his party's leaders are also unhappy about what they call the "double standards" of the central government.

  8. The lockdown was announced by PM Modi on March 25, leaving thousands of migrant labourers across the country stranded and vulnerable. With jobs and in many cases, shelters gone, many tried to make their way home on foot. Some did not make it, collapsing hours away from home after the hard trek, often without enough food or water.

  9. As the movement from cities to villages turned into an exodus, throwing to the wind all rules of social distancing and raising concerns about the infection spreading, the government asked the states to seal borders and keep those who broke lockdown in 14-day compulsory quarantine.

  10. The Centre had assured that migrant labourers will be looked after by the states where they were located. But the situation on the ground indicated otherwise, with reports of hunger coming in from various corners of the country. In the national capital, people were seen queuing up for lunch since dawn outside the relief centres. In Surat and Mumbai, the migrants held violent protests, demanding that they be allowed to go home.


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