INDIA: India’s sudden lockdown left millions of migrant workers stranded far from their home cities.
According to a report by Vice, dozens of people have died making long journeys home after the Indian government’s decision to impose a blanket lockdown last Tuesday, forcing businesses to shutter and giving citizens no time to prepare. Many died of heart attack brought on by exhaustion during their journeys.
Millions of migrant workers in India were left without food or shelter when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement, and now people are dying on the journeys back home.
Tens of thousands of migrant workers, some of them with families in tow, tried to escape New Delhi over the weekend, hoping to board the few buses that were still running to their home towns and villages. But police had to beat back many of those trying to make the long journeys.
Migrant workers have blasted the government’s decision to force people living in slums to stay at home for three weeks, claiming the measures will leave them without food. In Kerala on Saturday thousands of people defied the curfew to protest the lockdown, with many of them saying they hadn’t eaten in days.
While some states organized buses to repatriate their migrant workers, on Sunday afternoon the central government ordered states to seal their borders, ordering migrants to stay where they are.
In a rare admission for Modi, the prime minister recognized the huge pressure the lockdown is placing on his citizens, and apologized for the measures on Sunday.
“I apologize for taking these harsh steps that have caused difficulties in your lives, especially the poor people,” Modi said in his monthly address, broadcast on state radio. “I know some of you will be angry with me. But these tough measures were needed to win this battle.”
Edited by Radzi Ahmad