- Our original plan was to keep migrants in special camps: Sanjay Jha
- People got violent, attempted to commit suicide, he says
- PM's lockdown plan was deliberately defeated, he added
Lockdown against coronavirus has "failed' in Bihar due to Arvind Kejriwal and Yogi Adityanath governments' move to ferry thousands of migrant labourers into the state, Bihar's irrigation minister Sanjay Jha has told NDTV. A day after the Centre ordered the states to implement lockdown and compulsory 14-day quarantine for incoming migrants, Mr Jha - who is part of Bihar's crisis management group -- said the migrants have become unruly and the situation was "explosive".
"While our original plan was to keep them in special camps at our side of the border, people got violent and at places, attempted to commit suicide. And people started abusing us, saying when Delhi and Uttar Pradesh government facilitated our movement, how can you force us to stay in camps still hundreds of kilometers from our villages," Sanjay Jha told NDTV.
Asked who is responsible for the situation, Mr Jha said: "I'm not into blame game, but since you provided buses and sent them, you defied and defeated the Prime Minister's call for lockdown... special buses from Anand Vihar (in Delhi) and various parts of Uttar Pradesh was organised to ferry people to different bordering districts of Bihar and people in thousands were dropped there".
The 21-day lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi a week ago to contain the spread of the coronavirus. At the time, describing the doorstep of a house as "lakshman rekha", the Prime Minster had asked people to stay within it. He also made it clear that no one in the country should move from where they are. To ensure that people do not move, all public transport - airlines, trains and buses were shut down.
But the next few days saw a steady stream of migrant labourers making for their villages on foot, propelled by loss of income and uncertainty about future. Entire families hit the road, clutching onto children and their meagre possessions, ready to walk all the way however long it took. Amid public outcry over the situation, the governments of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh made arrangements for them to go home, running free buses from several spots.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had alloted Rs 100 crore as reimbursement for whoever provides food and shelter to migrants and even "called people in Delhi", Sanjay Jha said.
But the "way people are coming and now, it is a free-for-all," he said.
Bihar, he said, is not having just its own to deal with. "People have come from Jharkhand, Bengal and even Nepal. By providing buses -- whoever provided them -- deliberately defeated the PM's plan," Mr Jha said.
Mr Kumar had announced the compensation on Thursday after critics, including former aide Prashant Kishor, pointed out the matter.
Yesterday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to migrant labourers again not to leave. The Delhi government, he said, has made detailed arrangements for their food and shelter.