New Delhi: As many as 80 migrant labourers have been arrested in Gujarat’s textile town, Surat, on Friday evening for defying the COVID-19 lockdown and going on a rampage and setting on fire several vegetable carts. The workers have been demanding that they be handed over their wages and allowed to return to Odisha, their home state.
This is the second such incident of labourers going on a rampage in Surat since March 30. Over 90 migrants were reportedly arrested on March 30 for defying the lockdown, demanding that they be sent back home. Most of these workers are employees of the power loom textile factories of the town which have been shut due to the nationwide lockdown. Due to the shutdown, the workers are not receiving their daily wages.
Surat hosts the state’s largest population of migrant workers.
The April 11 incident took place at the town’s Lakshana area. A PTI report, quoting ACP C.K. Patel, said “Hundreds of workers, mostly from Odisha, hit the streets demanding that they should be sent to their native places. They also claimed that the food served to them by an NGO is tasteless and they have to stand in queue to get the meal.”
Bad news coming in from Surat. Migrant workers in the city came out on the streets in huge numbers asking for their salaries and demanding permission to get back home. Torching of vegetable carts, stone pelting and lathicharging followed. Around 70 detained. pic.twitter.com/qjg2vAb2OR
— Asmita Nandy (@NandyAsmita) April 10, 2020
The police officer said, “Out of anger, they torched some handcarts and tyres in Laskana area. We have detained 80 migrant workers. Heavy police deployment and strict vigil by the administration has brought the situation under control.”
According to a report in The Hindu, “By the time police had arrived (on the spot), more than 1000 people had gathered on the street shouting and complaining about food and salaries.”
Gujarat, as of April 11, has reported 308 positive cases of COVID-19, out of which 19 have lost their lives.