The court further ordered the state government to place on record in what order workers registered on Seva Sindhu portal are chosen to be taken on these trains.

Migrant workers waiting to go home
news Migrant Crisis Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 22:26

The Karnataka High Court on Thursday pulled up the state government for sending a poorly planned ‘confirmation SMS’ to migrant workers who had already registered to go home on the state’s Seva Sindhu portal. In fact, Chief Justice of Karnataka, Abhay Sreeniwas Oka said that this was an ‘exercise to exclude a large number of persons who have registered to go back home’.

On May 26, the state government had sent an SMS to migrant workers who had registered on the Seva Sindhi portal to take a train back home, causing panic among the citizens and leading to crowding in railways stations and police stations. The SMS said, “If you want to leave by Shramik Trains, SMS Yes followed by last 6 digits of Seva Sindhu application no to 161 from registered mobile before 6 pm 26th May." While some received the message in Hindi, most of them got it in English – a language they’re not familiar with. Even as panic set among the citizens who thought they would miss their chance to go home, many of those who managed to reply got a ‘service expired’ reply.

This action by the government was challenged in court by the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU). Hearing the petition on Thursday, Chief Justice of Karnataka, Abhay Sreeniwas Oka said, "Prima facie we are of the view that the exercise undertaken seeking confirmation in a complicated manner can be an exercise to exclude a large number of persons who have registered to go back."

The court further ordered the state government to place on record in which order workers registered on Seva Sindhu portal are chosen to be taken on these trains and give assurance to all workers that they will be taken home if they wish to.  To this the Additional Advocate General  stated that the government would give an assurance to all workers registered that steps will be taken to ensure that they return home.

AICCTU in their petition referred to an earlier court order asking the government to put a proper system in place for the travel of migrant workers. The court on May 12 had said, “Now that the migrant workers who wish to travel back to their respective States have registered themselves, the State Government is made aware how many migrant workers want to go back to different States. The State Government must, therefore, work out a time schedule for facilitating transport of these migrant workers to their respective States.”

“The State Government should ensure that a broad time schedule is communicated to the migrant workers. The State can immediately do so in case of the migrant workers of the State of Bihar, who are going to be accommodated in the special trains which will be run from 16th May 2020 to 20th May 2020. The Central and State Government must find the solution on this issue which will ensure that the rights of those migrant workers who wish to go back to their respective States are not infringed only because they are in distress and are not in a position to pay the traveling charges.” the May 12 order said.

“The State Government must place on record the details of the special trains so far arranged from various places in the State of Karnataka and the special trains which are scheduled to run in near future,” the court had said.

Earlier this week, the Karnataka government claimed that there were no takers for the Shramik Special trains, following which the government cancelled 13 trains which were scheduled to leave from the state on Wednesday and Thursday.

Read: K’taka govt cancels trains citing ‘no passengers’, even as thousands yearn for home

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