One of the important shelter homes of Delhi Govt which has been a centre for “feeding migrants” is the one on the banks of the Yamuna near the main Interstate Bus Terminal or ISBT. It was much photographed in the initial periods of lock down to show how over 3000 assembled when there was food for 400. Even now it probably has over 6000 migrants and those surrounding slum dwellers who have been rendered unemployed and hare not entitled to rations, a needing a meal each meal time.
On 9th April there was a big argument between the rude staff and the people assembling for food, which led to staff beating the hungry, police lathicharge and some people jumping into the river to save themselves. They were fished out except one, is what the people present have said over television. Yesterday a body was taken out from the river and police lathicharged the gathering crowd. In this course two of the shelter homes here caught fire. Of course some workers have been arrested, being accused of setting the shelters on fire. No minister of the Delhi Govt has yet reached the migrants, least of all Labour Minister Gopal Rai. In Hindustan Times today, Shri Bipin Rai member of Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board of Kejriwal Govt and also DM (Central) Nidhi Rai have labelled the incident as due to ‘vagabonds’. There is no need to comment on this adjective. 6 homeless were detained by the police here. 24 hours earlier migrants in Surat, hungry, homeless and wageless, had poured into the streets. For this 81 were arrested and 3000 others are part of the FIR lodged.
These are India’s migrant workers……. the casual, contractual, daily wagers, construction workers, workforce of textile and auto industries. Vagabonds, are they? Below is the text of the letter written to Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi CM, by 7 trade unions (including IFTU, AIFTU(New), IMK, IMS, MEK, SMU) in Delhi on April 12, 2020.
This is to bring to your notice about an incident of fire that took place in a shelter home in Kashmere Gate. As reported, the incident took place over distribution of food and misbehaviour of staff. This resulted in one worker drowning in river Yamuna. They were all migrant workers and are facing grave hardship due to lockdown. It clearly shows that despite tall claims and propaganda the relief and conditions of migrant workers is miserable. The food available is far from adequate and staff far from courteous.
The death of worker is due to negligence of the government and unnecessarily act by officials.
In this regard we demand the following.
- Immediate inquiry into the incident and fix the responsibility of officers responsible for the scuffle.
- File FIR against the guilty officials for murder.
- Immediate visit of Delhi Government to the site to reassure workers.
- Fix the responsibility of senior officials responsible for the deficiency in facilities.
- Ensure the appropriate facilities for food and shelter for migrant workers both in terms of quantity and quality.
Sir, we the undersigned, urge you to take personal urgent intervention and appropriate action.