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'Violation' of migrant workers' human rights: Legal notice to IIM-A director, govt babus

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to the police action against protesting migrant workers off the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) on May 18, senior Gujarat High Court advocate Anandvardhan Yagnik, in a legal notice to the IIM-A director "on their behalf" has said that the workers had only been seeking to to go back to their home states, Jharkhand and West Bengal, for the last more than 20 days because they were not paid their “earned wages because of the lockdown.”
Employed for the construction of a new IIM-A building, the contractors and the principal employers, IIM-A, said the notice, “have not been listening and are completely oblivious” to the workers’ grievances, insisting, as a result, “there has been unrest amongst the workers and hence”, making them to approach “concerned authorities” of IIM-A.
“Not having received any response, out of frustration they came out on street which led to the clash between them and the police”, the notice, which has also been sent to Gujarat chief secretary and top state labour and employment department, said, adding, “However, what is more disturbing is that the police personnel brutally thrashed several of the workmen and the labourers were badly injured.”
“Around 300 of them were detained out of which around 262 having been released and around 36 are yet in detention at the Sola Police Station”, the notice said, adding, “Those who have been released, their mobile phones have been confiscated by the police. Those who are yet in custody they are not being produced before the concerned magistrate” under the pretext that “their corona tests are awaited.”
Staying in shanties to stay at the Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) Ground near to the IIM-A, while they were provided with water and sanitation as also food. But following the lockdown announced on March 24, 2020 the construction activity for the IIM-A building came to a halt and the workmen were “rendered workless” and stopped getting “any wages or remuneration”, the notice said.
“Despite the nature of brutality, the IIM administration has not spoken up and has remained mute spectators to stripping of the very fundamental rights of the migrant labourers”, the notice alleged.
Asking the IIM-A administration to ensure that all the workers are paid minimum wages in conformity with the Minimum Wages Act, the legal notice insists, it should provide them with “appropriate and humane living conditions in conformity with the obligations under the labour laws”, ensure that FIR is registered against the “erring police officers who inflicted unprovoked violence.”
Seeking “immediate release of all the migrant workers of Jharkhand and West Bengal who were detained”, the notice wants all those who are willing to go back to be safely repatriated to their “respective parent state, free of charge, and in the meanwhile they should be provided with “interim arrangements with “appropriate living and hygiene conditions.”
The legal notice says, calls the migrant workers are victims of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act, 1979; Minimum Wages Act, 1949; human rights of the migrant labourers; the dictum laid down by apex court in PUDR and Ors. Vs. UOI & Ors. Reported in (1982) 3 SCC 235, as also by the apex court in D.K. Basu Vs. State of West Bengal reported in (1997) 1 SCC 416.

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