Maharashtra govt asks seven states to take back 3.5 lakh migrant workers

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The Maharashtra government on Sunday asked Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh to take back 3.5 lakh migrants hailing from these states stuck in the state.

A Times of India report said that Maharashtra chief secretary Ajoy Mehta made the request after the first batch of 100 Sikh pilgrims stranded at Takht Sri Hazur Sahib in Nanded returned home at the instance of Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh.

Mehta said Maharashtra was willing to ferry the migrants to the borders of their states and hand them over. The Himachal and Haryana governments too sent Kashmiri workers and those from UP back to their home states on buses on Saturday.

A total of 3,800 pilgrims from Punjab, Haryana and Delhi who came to Nanded on March 23, a day before the nationwide lockdown was put in place, were stuck in Nanded.

After evacuating the first batch, the Punjab government has despatched 80 more buses to shift the other pilgrims back. The buses will cover a distance of 3,300km. Each bus has three drivers, one conductor and one policeman.

According to reports, Mehta told his counterparts in the other states that if they agreed, the Maharashtra government would drop off migrants from their states at the borders of those states. Similarly, workers from Maharashtra stranded in other states could be dropped off at the state’s border.

A senior bureaucrat told TOI, “Ajoy Mehta raised this issue during a video conference with the Union cabinet secretary. Mehta suggested states take responsibility for repatriation of migrants.”

According to reports, CM Uddhav Thackeray had taken up the matter with the central government as well as with the visiting Central team, but there had been no response. Over 1,500 migrants had gathered on April 15 at Bandra railway station after rumours circulated that long-distance trains had restarted (with TOI inputs).

Image Credit: DNA India

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