Migrants in Distress

The lockdown imposed, to the accompaniment of bugles and conch shells, in March this year at only four hours' notice left hundreds of thousands of migrant workers with no option but to return to their homes by any means, however tortuous they might be. While trying to do this, many died out of hunger, starvation, physical exhaustion, accidents etc, and the number would be not much less than one thousand. Now the central government says that there is no data on the number of such migrant workers, and hence it is not possible to provide them with adequate compensation. It is difficult, if not impossible, to assume a more inhuman posture about the victims of the government's indiscretion. Diehard Modi loyalists like Mr Swapan Dasgupta cannot bury the stark fact that it is the government's indiscretion and stupidity that caused such a plight of migrant workers. The data could be easily collected, but what was lacking was the government's desire.

The central labour minister has revealed that he is not in possession of even the primary data on what is probably the gravest humanitarian crisis in the history of independent India. This shows how efficiently the government and the labour ministry are running their business . The government and the Delhi police claim that they have collected evidence covering 11 lakh pages for arresting and trying JNU student Umar Khalid; but they have not collected the data of the number of distressed persons suffering owing to the arbitrary decision of the government, even after many heart-rending incidents were brought to light. It has brazenly declared that there is no convention of collecting such statistics, although a non-government organisation has collected such data. Only an utterly inhuman government can behave like this, referring to the absence of convention. They think that even in a case of unprecedented crisis, the convention of inaction cannot be violated. When Rome was burning, Emperor Nero was playing on a lyre. The Modi Government reminds people of this episode. It is going to renovate the areas of Delhi lying beside the main roads of the capital and the estimated cost is Rs200 billions. A government bent on implementing such a programme in the context of a shrinking economy can ill-afford to think of migrant workers.

Fascists go on lying ad infinitum, assuming that it would appear as truth to the people. That is why the name of Kapil Misra, the BJP leader whose hate speech on the eve of the Delhi riots of February was heard by millions, has been dropped from the charge sheet by the Delhi police acting at the behest of Amit Shah. Not only Kapil Misra, but other BJP leaders were also seen to have delivered provocative hate speeches, and they have also been exonerated. Everybody saw that the Delhi riots went on for at least four days. But MrAmit Shah claimed that the situation was brought under control within 36 hours. It does not need much exercise of the brain to understand what these Indian disciples of Goebbels are up to.

There is however a glimmer of hope. Revelations of facts and protests by well-meaning people continue. Instances are too many to be cited here. One particularly notable example is that a big newspaper group is regularly publishing the voices of dissent. Yet fascists, who sometimes swear by the traditions of ancient India and work overtime to promote unscientific and obscurantist ideas, will go on roaring, because they cannot afford to do anything else.


Vol. 53, No. 14, Oct 4 - 10, 2020