The State and the Migrants

Arup Kumar Sen

The Indian State and the mainstream media have declared war against the coronavirus. As a protective measure against the novel coronavirus, the WHO advised: “Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands”.

The micro prescription of the WHO has been given macro effect in a draconian way in an Indian state. A video showed some officials in UP’s Bareilly district spraying chemicals on migrants, including women and children, who were returning to their villages from Delhi and Noida. To put the draconian act in the words of NDTV (March 30, 2020):

Close your eyes and those of your children, order personnel in protective gear, as a group of men, women and children squat on the road. Next comes a spray of bleach and many cry out as their eyes sting. The shocking video of migrants being “disinfected” has emerged from Uttar Pradesh on a day the Supreme Court took up a petition seeking relief for the thousands walking to their home states amid the 21-day lockdown.

The migrants are facing a post-lockdown survival crisis for loss of their livelihoods and they cannot survive without welfare measures of the State. But, the above draconian act makes us apprehensive about the kind of State patronage to be extended to the migrants.

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Apr 3, 2020

Arup Sen

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