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Migrants’ exodus: Gujarat, Bihar CMs appeal for calm, extra forces out

“The BJP knows that it is going to face defeats in upcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan, MP (Madhya Pradesh) and other states. So, the party has been trying to divert the attention,” president of the state unit of the Congress Amit Chavda said.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2018 08:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Ahmedabad
migrant attacks,Gujarat,attacks on no-Gujaratis
After sporadic incidents of attacks in Mehsana, Sabarkantha and Aravali districts between September 28 and October 4, labourers maintained that threats have not stopped. (Representative Image/HT File Photo)

The issue of attacks on migrant labourers in parts of Gujarat took a political turn on Monday with the opposition Congress accusing the ruling BJP government of supporting the attackers.

Amid reports of migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar continuing to flee to their native places, the administration launched confidence-building measures. Flag marches by police and community meetings in affected pockets of Ahmedabad city and parts of Gandhinagar, Mehsana and Sabarkantha districts in north Gujarat were also organised.

Government officials said the police have been told to hold mohalla meetings and the district collectors instructed to involving locals in the confidence-building measures. They have also been instructed to take action against those giving threats or spreading rumours against the migrant labourers, the officials said.

The attacks and threats against “outsiders”, which left 45 persons injured between September 28 and October 3, started following the rape of a 14-month-old girl allegedly by a migrant worker last month. One Raghuvir Sahu (19) from Bihar, a worker at a ceramic factory, was arrested for the crime in Himmatnagar on September 28.

Assuring security to the migrants, the Gujarat government said 431 people were arrested and 56 FIRs registered in connection with the attacks, as chief minister Vijay Rupani appealed to people not to engage in violence.

Claiming that no untoward incident had taken place during the last 48 hours, Rupani said the situation has been brought under control by police.

“We are committed to maintaining law and order, and people can call police in case of trouble. We will provide them security.” he told reporters in Rajkot.

Chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar –Yogi Adityanath and Nitish Kumar – and Union minister and BJP ally Ram Vilas Paswan, who hails from Bihar, spoke to Rupani to voice their concern.

But the Congress blamed the government for the violence.

“Attacks on migrants continued despite security cover and police bandobast. This means attackers enjoy silent blessings of the government,” said Congress state chief Amit Chavda.

“The BJP knows that it is going to face defeats in upcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan, MP and other states. So the party has been trying to divert the attention,” he said.

Uttar Bharatiya Vikas Parishad president Maheshsingh Kushwah claimed that over 20,000 people belonging to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar had fled Gujarat due to the prevailing situation.

A leader of the JD(U), which is headed by Nitish Kumar, wrote a two-page open letter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, blaming his party for the violence against Biharis.

“You appointed your Gujarat MLA Alpesh Thakor as one of the national secretaries in-charge of Bihar and his outfit Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena is driving out migrant Biharis,” Neeraj Kumar, JD(U) MLC and spokesman, alleged.

Without naming the Congress, Gujarat home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja said efforts were underway to find out whether “it (attacks) is a conspiracy by those who are out of power in Gujarat since the last 22 years”.

But senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel gave a clean chit to Thakor, alleging that the BJP government was trying to politicise the issue.

Rahul Gandhi said targeting of migrant workers in Gujarat is “completely wrong” and he is totally against it.

Jadeja, however, said that among the arrested persons is a man who had in the past contested a local poll on a Congress ticket. “A person (Mohat Thakor), who had contested Gandhinagar taluka panchayat election on a Congress ticket, has been arrested for instigating and threatening migrants,” he said. In a video that has gone viral, Thakor is seen threatening migrants in Uvarsad village in Gandhinagar district to leave.

Condemning the rape incident, Nitish Kumar said the guilty must be punished but an entire community must not be tarred with the same brush.

“Our government is aware and alert. I spoke to the Gujarat chief minister yesterday. Our Chief Secretary and DGP are also in touch with their counterparts in Gujarat,” Kumar told reporters in Patna.

Adityanath said the Gujarat chief minister told him that his government has ensured the safety of all and that all are welcome.

Meanwhile, some rush due to migrant fleeing was seen at Ahmedabad railway station. “We have been hearing a lot about threats. Others were also moving from our area in Kalol. So I have also decided to go,” said Pyarelal Thakur, who was at the station.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Oct 08, 2018 18:45 IST