Skip to main content

Withdraw notifications seeking to criminalize, penalise migrants: Rights groups to MHA

Counterview Desk
Two civil rights advocacy groups, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) and All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN), have asked the Government of India to retract all notifications and orders that allegedly criminalize or use coercion and violence against the movement of migrant workers.
Calling the lockdown Prime Minister Narndra Modi announced "utterly arbitrary, unprepared and hurried", their statement particularly takes strong exception to the notification by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), No 40-3/2020-DM-I (A) of March 29, 2020, which says that the 'movement of migrants is violation of the lock-down', even as urging state, including police, action.
Nor only does the notification offer no "uniform guidelines or support", states like Haryana, based on it, have imposed "penal orders" in order criminalise the migrants, the statement says. Following MHA’s orders, the Government of Haryana, for instance, notified that no arrangement of transport will be made for people to go back to their native homes.

Text:

We, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan and All India People’s Science Network are extremely concerned at the way Government has announced the lockdown in an utter arbitrary, unprepared and hurried manner, which has implications for the vulnerable populations. The lockdown has been followed by curtailment of public and other transportation.
It is now evident that the lockdown was imposed without forethought and planning for the obvious accompanying arrangements for a variety of needs of the people, especially of migrant workers, daily wage earners, unorganized sector workers including the self-employed.
It is also clear that predilections of migrant workers of all categories in the lockdown-triggered context of loss of employment and incomes, loss of shelter, deprivation of food and high exposure to the Covid-19 epidemic in conditions of overcrowding and potential malnutrition, was not taken into account when announcing the lockdown.
No preparatory actions were taken either. That this led to anxiety, increasing desperation and pronounced desire to return to native villages and towns where migrant workers and their families perceive that at least basic food, shelter and social support structures would be available to them, should have been anticipated.
The mass exodus of migrant workers and their families from metros and other cities back to their villages, and their resort to attempting to walk all the way, often over many hundred kilometers, in the absence of any other mode of public transportation. This has come at significant social, economic and human costs, evidence of which is fast emerging through media and civil society reports from different corners of the country.
A week after the lockdown, tens of thousands of distressed, hungry and fatigued people, including women and children (pregnant women and infants), are waiting desperately under overcrowded conditions at various places for any available transport that would take them back to their towns and villages.
Lakhs of migrant labour and their families are paying an enormous human price to undertake these journeys, traversing hundreds of kilometres on foot. Women, children and the elderly are particularly at risk. Tens of deaths have been recorded of migrants, including children, on the road and the actual number of deaths may be higher.
In the absence of anticipation and preparedness, there were initially different responses by State government, with some arranging for buses to take these migrants to different locations within their States or to state borders with neighbouring states. Even in such cases, no arrangements were made for safe transport maintaining physical distance, or preparedness for quarantine or other precautions even at district level in the different destinations.
Violence by police and authorities to impose the lockdown in the context of such “distress reverse migration” at an unprecedented scale is being widely reported. Media has reported the spraying of returning migrant workers in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh with disinfectant which is unacceptable and abhorrent behaviour on part of the administration. The Chief Minister of Telengana is reported as saying that he may have to pass shoot-at-sight orders for anyone violating the lockdown.
The notification by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), No. 40-3/2020-DM-I (A) of March 29, 2020 reiterates that 'movement of migrants is violation of the lock-down' and urges state action, including police action.
While the MHA notification does detail some of the ways in which rights of these migrants must be protected by their employers and landlords, and directs States to provide them food and shelter, no uniform guidelines or support has been given.
However, the MHA notification’s assertion that this is a violation of lockdown measures has prompted states like Haryana to impose penal orders and criminalise the migrants. Following up on the MHA’s orders, the Government of Haryana has notified that no arrangement of transport will be made for people to go back to their native homes.
It notes that all people on the road will be sent back to where they were working and in case they resist, then they will be booked for ‘jaywalking’ and incarcerated in stadiums that are to be turned into ‘temporary jails’. We are dismayed at the use of the word “jay walking” as it reflects a bias against the struggles of the poor migrant workers and blind-sides the enormous humanitarian crisis.
WHO Myth Busters notes, 'spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill virus... it is harmful'. This kind of action is not acceptable
In the unfolding scenario, we are outraged at the response of some states, reinforcing that the mass movement of migrants arising out of sheer desperation constitutes a violation of the lockdown, and imposing penal orders to criminalise the migrants. Further, the mass spraying of disinfectant on migrants returning home is not only a cruel act of violation of their dignity, it can have serious repercussions for their health.
These actions and notifications are an absolute travesty of justice and violation of human rights of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people of this country on an unprecedented scale.
The situation that the migrants are in today is a reflection of continued and long-term State apathy and failure of the State in anticipating the problems likely to confront migrant workers and other vulnerable unorganized sector workers, which many experts and civil society organizations had cautioned about even at the outset.
Penalising them for undertaking these perilous journeys that have been necessitated by total absence of preparedness, and negligence is an extreme form of violation of basic human rights.
JSA and AIPSN urge the central and state governments to immediately review the lockdown imposed across the country, retract the orders that criminalise and penalise the forced movement of migrant and take measures to alleviate problems faced by migrants. The Central and State governments must take the following action:
  • Retract immediately any notifications, orders that criminalise, use coercion and violence to prevent the enforced movement of migrant workers. No coercion should be permitted either through government directive or through administrative decisions. The State instead needs to uphold the human rights of people, and address this health and human crisis with compassion and care.
  • Stop penalizing migrant workers and revoke notifications / orders on conversion of stadiums or other spaces into jails; instead, use such spaces for shelter and put in place measures for provision of food and health care.
  • Stop police brutality on the migrants and take action against the officers of the police force and administration who have inflicted violence.
  • Stop spraying chemicals/chlorine on migrants returning at the borders in the name of ‘disinfecting’. WHO Myth Busters notes “spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses... in fact it is harmful". This kind of action is not acceptable.
  • Allow migrant workers and their families to make an informed decision about remaining where they are or going to their villages.
  • Facilitate free transportation of those who are stranded in various places to take them to their respective villages, towns, cities; the state must undertake all necessary measures to ensure utmost protection in the course of the journey as well at the destination to prevent COVID-19 infection. The central government may issue guidelines to the states to screen such workers and start transportation through road or railways. This transport should be completely free, without any conditionality of possession of Aadhaar or any other ID card.
  • Urgently ensure provisioning of all necessary services (food, shelter, water, healthcare, information) for those who are still living at their place of work, so that they are not forced to leave. State’s support should be given even in the absence of bank account or Aadhar card.
  • Implement urgent measures to provide comprehensive information about COVID-19, reassure and mitigate concerns and panic. Initiate public messaging against discrimination and implement steps to address any violations by employers, landlords and governments (refer MHA notification dated 29/03/20)
  • Implement urgent measures for maternity care for the women migrants who are pregnant and provide food and milk supply to infants and children

Comments

Habeeb said…
Virus not seen who Hindu Muslim but some sangis issues why they have no work only disturbing relationship so very danger for humanity

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

Govt of India 'compromising' on mandate to regulate gene technologies, protect nature

Counterview Desk  In a letter sent to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and other related ministries and departments, the Coalition for a GM-Free India has raised "serious concern" over the guidelines notified for Genome Edited Organisms, in which major exemptions from regulations have been offered to certain categories of Genome Edited Organisms/Plants and products. A letter signed by Sridhar Radhakrishnan and Kapil Shah, co-convenors of the NGO network, addressed to Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Bhupender Yadav, said, the Office Memorandum, dated May 17, 2022 of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology about Safety Assessment Guidelines, which follows the Office Memorandum dated March 30, 2022 of the MoEFCC, said, the move "essentially amounts to entry of risky GMOs through the backdoor. Text : Coalition for a  GM-Free India is a national volunteer-driven platform of hundre

A Marxian trend that queries undemocratic customs and traditions of capitalism

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  A very well-meaning comrade called me a pluriversal Marxist with a wild smile full of English irony, while chairing my book release function in the Marx Memorial Library, London. I dedicate this piece to her… There is no other philosopher who is more abused and misunderstood like Marx. There is no other philosophy like Marxism which is more demonised on a regular basis. The mindless vilification campaign against Marx and Marxism continues without any form of reason. The propaganda and portrayal of Marxism as a devilish doctrine signify its importance as a philosophy of human emancipation from the very forces who demonise it. Marxism is a philosophy of praxis which helps us to understand the centrality of creative power of labour in producing socially meaningful value. It helps us to analyse the laws governing production, distribution, consumption, exchange, market, profit, pricing and private property in the development of class-based society. As a humanist p