Protest by migrants stokes trafficchaos after UP govt seals borders
The Yogi Adityanath government’s decision to seal the state’s borders took hundreds of migrant workers at the Uttar Pradesh heading home by surprise, leading to chaos at many points.
After the deaths of 26 migrant workers in a road accident in Auraiya district on Saturday, chief minister Yogi Adityanath had ordered not allowing any migrant worker travelling in trucks, cycles or on foot to enter the state. Instead, the government ordered they be provided buses and trains for their home journey. However, these took time to be arranged.
In the mean time, in the 13 UP districts that shares borders with Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana chaos reigned. District and police officers struggled to convince the irate people that arrangements were being made to take them home.
The migrant workers had made long and arduous journey to reach this far. They also became restive as many were close to their destinations. “We travelled over 1,000 kms with little to eat and drink in this scorching heat and now when our homes are barely hundred kilometers away, we are being told we can’t move ahead,” one said.
In Saharanpur, over 3,000 migrant workers who arrived from Punjab and Haryana came out on roads and created ruckus over the delay in arranging transport for their onward journey. Police used mild force to quell them, and to pacify them, announcements were made that buses and trains were being arranged.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP), Saharanpur, Dinesh Kumar P said trouble erupted after rumours among the migrants at Radha Swami Satsang Ashram on Ambala Road that they would be held there for two to three months. Police informed them that 1,320 migrants were already sent on a train, and that buses were being arranged for the rest. “The situation is now under control,” he said.
In Jhansi, police were seen asking migrant workers on trucks at the border to deboard. But the unconvinced workers shouted slogans against the state government and police. “There was chaos due to confusion among migrants that we were not allowing their entry, but when they were told that the administration was arranging buses for their safe journey, the matter was sorted out. They were taken to a nearby shelter and later boarded buses to their destinations,” said SP City Jhansi Rahul Srivastava.
At Agra and Mathura border, migrants entering the state from Rajasthan’s Bharatpur and Dholpur were agitated over the interruption. A group set fire to a garbage dump. The situation was controlled when Mathura administration officials arranged buses.
Similarly, long queues of trucks and trolleys ferrying migrants, apart from some on bicycles, were seen in other bordering districts like Gautambuddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Baghpat, Shamli, Lalitpur and Mahoba. Chaos was also reported from some non-bordering districts like Lucknow, Kanpur, Unnao, and Fatehpur.
Director general of police (DGP) H C Awasthy said there was an unprecedented turn out of migrants. He, however, said that the situation was defused in a few hours after they were convinced of buses and trains for their safe onward journey. He said the aim of sealing the borders was to ensure safety of migrants and not to interrupt their movement.
Additional chief secretary, home, Awanish Awasthi said trains from Jhansi, Mahoba, Agra, Mathura, Noida, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Saharanpur and Prayagraj were likely to start from Sunday. He said the UP state road transport corporation deployed 10,000 buses and districts magistrates had been told to hire private buses. The state had requested the Railways to operate trains between Kanpur- Varanasi via Prayagraj, he added.