Prime Minister Narendra Modi today mentioned migrant workers in in his month monthly radio address "Mann ki Baat", saying they have been hit the hardest during the outbreak. "There is no class of people who did not suffer due to COVID-19 outbreak, but poor, labourers hit hardest," he said -- a .
The plight of migrant labourers, mostly seen trudging along highways to their villages hundreds of kilometers away, often without food or water, has been one of the most heartrending images of the 60-day lockdown.
Around 4 crores of migrant workers spread across the country had found themselves suddenly without a job as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the countrywide lockdown on March 25.
With just four hours to go before the transport shutdown started, all of them have found themselves stranded.
Despite the assurances of food and shelter by the Central and state governments, most were left to fend for themselves.
Over the past weeks, many died during the long walk home. Others died in accidents on the highway as tried to go home in illegal and unsafe modes of transport like trucks, tempos, auto rickshaws and even cycles. Yet others died of hunger and exhaustion on the special trains for labourers run by the Central government.
PM Modi's comment came a day after Union home minister Amit Shah said the government was "pained" by the sufferings of migrant workers. "We are also pained by their sufferings (Un sabko jo takleef hui uska dard hame bhi hai). It doesn''t mean no arrangements were made," he said during a television interview.
The government has been under sharp opposition criticism over the issue of the migrant workers. The Congress has repeatedly condemned the government and filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, which has also taken up the issue suo motu.