According to police, some were taken into custody to find if someone had instigated them as the workers were unaware of the Centre’s order allowing inter-state movement.

Migrant workers in Keralas Malappuram protest demanding to go homeScreen grab / Asianet News
Coronavirus Labour Issues Thursday, April 30, 2020 - 17:33

Violating the lockdown regulations, about 100 migrant workers at Chattiparambu in Malappuram district of Kerala took out a protest march on Thursday, demanding assistance to return to their natives. According to the Malappuram police, most of the migrant workers who protested are from West Bengal.

"Mamata, can you take us away from here?" was one of the slogans they raised, referring to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Almost everyone who took part in the march had covered their faces with masks.

Incidentally, this protest comes a day after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued guidelines to allow inter-state movement of migrant workers, tourists, pilgrims, students and others who are stranded.

Hundreds of migrant labourers live in Chattiparambu, a small town in Malappuram.

Malappuram Deputy Superintendent of Police (SP) Jaleel Thottathil told PTI that the workers were demanding transport facilities to move back to their native land as there was no work in the state.

"They said their families were suffering back at their homes as they are unable to send money due to lack of work during the lockdown. They said they had food and other facilities here but were unhappy as they were unable to return to their families," the DySP said.

The police had a tough time stopping the protest march, and after much persuasion, they managed to get them back to the camps where they are staying.

Speaking to TNM, Malappuram Superintendent of Police (SP) Abdul Karim U said that the police have started a probe to find out if the protest was instigated by anyone.

“We are not sure if everyone who took part in the protest was migrant workers. We have taken some into custody and are questioning them to find out if someone had instigated them. They were not aware of the Centre’s order, which came out on Wednesday. We have now explained the situation to them,” Abdul Karim said.

Read: Centre allows interstate travel for stranded citizens including migrant workers, students

He also added that action will be taken, if it is found that the incident was instigated.

Malappuram is a ‘red zone’ district in Kerala. As on Wednesday, 1,930 people under observation and 12 COVID-19 patients are under treatment.

In March, hundreds of migrant labourers had held a massive protest in Kerala’s Kottayam district, raising similar demands to return to their hometowns. Compared to the latest incident from Malappuram, the protest in Kottayam was a massive one.

Some of the migrant workers in Kottayam had then complained that they were not receiving food that they are used to. The issue was resolved the same day after the intervention of the District Collector.

In about 20,000 camps across the state, about four lakh migrant workers have been given shelter since the lockdown, with all necessary arrangement, including food of their liking and recreational facilities.

Read: ‘We want to go home’: Hundreds of migrant workers in Kerala take to street to protest

(With inputs from IANS and PTI)

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