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Migrants, marginalised 'inhumanly' treated by administration, security forces: Saheli

Counterview Desk
Well-known women's group Saheli has sharply criticized the Government of India for showing “utter insensitivity and callousness” towards the poor and the most vulnerable sections in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. 
Calling the state’s treatment of the poor is “cruel, heartless and inhuman”, and referring to prime minister Narendra Modi's statement expressing sorrow to the poor people caused to them, it said, “Apologies about the distress caused by the lockdown mean nothing without acknowledging (and correcting) the transgressions of the state against the people who are worst hit by this crisis.” 

Text:

Our heads must hang in collective shame at pictures of poor, migrant and marginalised people – women and men, young and old, children and people with disabilities, people from underprivileged communities – being inhumanly treated by state administrations, and the security forces.
The anti-poor, anti-Dalit, anti-Muslim, regional and ethnic biases propagated by the powers-that-be are in blatant display during this, the greatest humanitarian crisis that we and most other countries have ever faced.
Since the last few days, extremely poor daily wagers have been leaving many major cities to try and reach their villages and home towns to escape the joblessness (and pennilessness) they are facing under the lockdown, the lack of any economic and social security, and total uncertainty about returning to work.
Without money and resources, they have taken to the roads, with nothing to eat and no drinking water, leave aside water and soap to wash their hands! 
Yet they have been further traumatised by security forces beating them, making them sit with heads in between their legs as ‘punishment’ for breaking curfew, and most horrifying of all, being sprayed with pesticide chemicals to ‘disinfect’ them – with no concern for their health, safety or dignity!
Was this done to those who were brought back by planes from other countries, who could actually have been the first carriers of deadly coronavirus?
Apologies about the distress caused by the lockdown mean nothing without acknowledging transgressions of the state against the people
The prime minister, chief ministers and many other government officials are issuing statements to create awareness about the virus, but unfortunately, their repeated messages on social media talk about ‘giving a free hand to law enforcement’.
On the ground this has meant a ‘free hand’ for security personnel to stop the poor from stepping out to buy vegetables, beating citizens in minority dominated areas at ration shops, ostracising and harassing those already at the margins of our society – Dalit, Muslim, Trans persons, sex workers, persons with disabilities etc. who have, for the last several years, led amazing struggles for their rights as full citizens.
Today we reaffirm and invoke these very constitutional rights and assert that every person in India be treated with equality and dignity.
We urge the authorities to put an immediate stop to the ruthless and inhuman display of power by the state agencies, and issue orders to this effect.
The government at both the Centre and at state levels, needs to prove that they are the government of all, not just the privileged few.
After all, every society is judged by how it treats it’s poorest, weakest and most vulnerable.

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