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Karnataka To Restart Trains Taking Migrant Workers To Their Home States - Posted on: 2020-05-08

Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa had said around 1 lakh migrants had left and the those who remain would be needed to work at the construction sites.

BengaluruThree trains to transport migrant labourers to their home states will run friday from Bengaluru, the Karnataka government has said amid outrage over its yesterday's move to cancel the special trains run by the Central government. The opposition Congress was vehement in its condemnation of the cancellation, insisting that the migrants cannot be treated like "bonded labour". Many opposed the move on social media as well, claiming the migrants were being "held hostage". Karnataka -- which earlier said it needed the remaining migrants in the state for the "economic revival" -- asked for the approval of nine north Indian states for their return.

Here are the developments in this big story:

  1. The Karnataka government has written to Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Odisha, conveying its decision and seeking their consent for receiving the workers, sources said.

  2. Officials said two trains a day will be run to the states till May 15, transporting the thousands of migrant workers stranded in Bengaluru and other districts due to the COVID-19 lockdown. One train a day will run to the northeastern states of Manipur and Tripura.

  3. On Wednesday, the Karnataka government had written to the railways, asking it to cancel 10 trains that were to run through the week. Eight special trains had ferried migrant labourers to their home states before the cancellation.

  4. Chief Minister BS Yeddiyurappa underscored that many of the migrants had already left the state and those who were remained were needed. "We have sent around one lakh people in 3,500 buses and trains back to their home towns. I have also appealed to migrant workers to stay as the construction work has resumed now," the Chief Minister told reporters.

  5. The government had also announced a Rs 1,600 crore relief package for those in distress because of the lockdown This included "registered" workers for its booming construction business, especially in state capital Bengaluru. The list, however, includes local workers as well.

  6. Other BJP leaders said the move will help restore the state's economy. "Stoppage of inter-state trains by Sri @BSYBJP is a bold and necessary move. It will help migrant labourers who came here with hopes of a better life to restart their dreams. Also, it will kickstart economic activities full throttle. Karnataka will emerge out of this stronger!" tweeted Bengaluru BJP MP Tejasvi Surya.

  7. At a migrant settlement in Bengaluru, people said all they wanted now was to go back home. "Our parents are there. Our children are there," was the refrain.  The cancellation of trains, many of them told, has left them "mentally disturbed".

  8. Demanding that they be sent home, a section of migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal had created a ruckus in the city on May 4. They also allegedly roughed up some policemen.

  9. Soon after, an avalanche of criticism started. Pointing out that the government's move will force migrants to stay in the state, Congress's Siddaramaiah tweeted: "The decision to go back or to stay back should be with the labourers & not with the government. Labourers are free to choose health or work. Who will take responsibility if something goes wrong? Are we still practicing bonded labour?"

  10. Tagging the Chief Minister, historian Ramchandra Guha tweeted: "The Karnataka Government has been widely and rightly condemned for cancelling the trains that were to take workers home. I hope that good sense and humanity now prevails and the trains can be started again.