Identity politics disappears in Uttar Pradesh

Qantara.de - Dialogue with the Islamic World

India wants to isolate migrant workers due to corona pandemic

31.03.2020

Tens of thousands of migrant workers in India are said to be isolated to contain the coronavirus pandemic. People set out on foot from cities to their home villages, often hundreds of kilometers away, after losing their income due to a three-week curfew. They were also suddenly stranded because there were no more trains and buses going to their villages. India is the second most populous country on earth after China.

With one of the largest mass migrations in India's recent history, there is a risk that the virus could spread to the most remote places. To prevent this from happening, the government on Sunday called on states to close borders, feed and isolate returning day laborers.

Some places took drastic measures, several villages even turned away those returning after their long marches, as reported by local media. In a village in the state of West Bengal, for example, the residents sent seven day laborers to trees for isolation. These tree houses were built there, said a local official from the German Press Agency.

The families of the migrant workers brought the food, one of those affected told the newspaper “The New Indian Express”: “We don't even let our family members wash the cutlery. We wash it with soap, leave it on the ground and climb back up. " In the state of Uttar Pradesh, authorities sprayed some returnees with a mix of chlorine and water to disinfect them, it said.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi had previously apologized to the poor because they are suffering from dire straits due to the curfew. He emphasized that he had no other choice in the fight against the corona virus. Modi's government last week announced a bailout package for the 800 million poor people that was supposed to guarantee them food rations and money. Many day laborers nevertheless made their way to their home villages.

According to the Ministry of Health, there are now more than 1,000 known corona cases in India, including 29 deaths. Compared to the 1.3 billion inhabitants in the country, that is relatively little. However, India has also tested relatively little. Last Monday, the government said that the curfew, which was in effect until mid-April, should not be extended. (dpa)