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Migrant labourers freed from isolation centre at Bihar border following chaos

Bihar government had ordered to keep thousands of migrants arriving from Delhi and Lucknow in isolation centres at the border but it didn’t work.
Hindustan Times, Bhabua | By Prasun K Mishra
UPDATED ON MAR 29, 2020 11:36 PM IST
Migrant labourers headed to their home states from their places of work(HT Photo/Himanshu Vyas)

Bihar government on Sunday ordered the release of more than eight hundred migrant labourers who had arrived from Delhi and Lucknow, from eleven isolation centers, after they unleashed mayhem which proved too much for the administration to handle, including threatening with mass suicide if prevented from continuing their journey to their towns and villages.

The migrant workers arriving from Delhi and Lucknow had been stopped near state’s border with Uttar Pradesh in Kaimur district and kept in isolation centers, readied at the last minute following a directive from the state to quarantine them upon their arrival.

Earlier on Friday, the government had directed officials to let the migrant workers proceed to their respective places after screening them and providing them with food, water and treatment if necessary. But later, a new directive said they should be isolated at the border and not allowed to proceed further.

The new order to isolate the migrants led to widespread panic in the absence of testing facilities for Covid-19 and the government was slammed on social media for facilitating conditions for mass community transmission of the deadly virus and thereby endangering the life of denizens.

The new order also confused the officials who spent the night arranging for food, housing and isolation facilities for over 3000 migrants. More than 2000 migrants fled the centers after scaling the boundary walls when the policemen standing guard fell asleep in the wee hours.

Further chaos and mayhem were witnessed on Sunday morning after the remaining migrants raised a din demanding to be released to go home and hurled abuses at even senior officers.

They violated the isolation norms and assembled in groups and complained of a shortage of food and water and threatened to en-masse commit suicide if not released.

Situation got out of hand and some migrants vandalized the isolation centres and forced several officials and employees to flee while the remaining surrendered to the situation.

The district magistrate (DM) Nawal Kishor Chaudhary and superintendent of police Dilnawaz Ahmad, who had stayed late night at centers making the arrangements, rushed to the spot to pacify the group, but it was in vain.

The state government was informed about the dangerous situation following which directions to release them and their safe departure for their respective home district headquarters, was received from Patna, said the DM.

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