Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Friday urged the government to help migrant workers bound for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, as thousands of people from major metros, including Delhi, set on foot for their homes in the wake of 21-day-lockdown called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to check the further spread of the coronavirus.
“Isn’t it our responsibility that we help them? When Indians were stranded overseas… when they couldn’t return, then we had arranged special airplanes to bring them back to India,” Priyanka, the party’s incharge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, said in a video message, which she also shared on her Twitter handle.
“Every person has a natural tendency to turn towards home in times of crisis. Even these migrant workers want the same thing…” Priyanka said in her message. She further called upon political leaders to shelve their partisan differences and help those stranded in the middle of the highway to get back home.
Congress general secretary @priyankagandhi has appealed to authorities to help thousands of migrant labourers bound for UP and Bihar, currently in transit on streets, to reach their homes.— Dhairya Maheshwari (@dhairyam14) March 27, 2020
"Didnt we arrange special planes to bring back Indians stranded overseas?"#coronavirus pic.twitter.com/WGapUZz7t4
Priyanka said that the Uttar Pradesh unit of Congress had even formed a ‘special highway task force’ to help the migrant workers. “But we won’t be able to help them without the government’s intervention. We, thus, appeal the authorities to help these people get back home,” said Priyanka.
Priyanka’s appeal was seconded by veteran Congress MP Ahmed Patel, who appealed to authorities to arrange for a bus or train service to help such people get back home.
“If we can evacuate Indians stranded in foreign soil why not assist those stranded on domestic soil?” asked Patel, echoing Priyanka’s question.
Earlier in the day, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanded that the authorities make available transport to get the migrant workers back home.
The Rae Bareili MP also advised the government to make lodging accommodations for these people until they were provided with adequate means of transportation.
On its part, the union home ministry on Friday issued an advisory to states and UTs to prevent the "mass exodus" of migrant agricultural labourers, industrial workers and unorganised sector workers, so as to prevent the spread of COVID-19.