The labourers had paid between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 per person to these vehicle owners for ferrying them to their hometowns, police said. (Rperesentational Image)
Mumbai police has filed at least seven cases and booked 14 people, including owners, drivers and cleaners of vehicles used allegedly to illegally transport people to rural places in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh in violation of the 21-day nationwide lockdown.
So far, police have also stopped and turned back around 200 people, mostly migrant labourers, found crammed in these vehicles. The labourers had paid between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 per person to these vehicle owners for ferrying them to their hometowns, police said.
“Several people were found hiding under huge sacks inside these vehicles. We fear that during the journey, which goes beyond 24 hours, some of the men may die due to suffocation,” a police officer from JJ Marg police station said.
On Sunday, police arrested two men for allegedly ferrying 64 labourers illegally to Uttar Pradesh, Saki Naka police said. The labourers, who had reportedly paid Rs 2,500 per person to the two men, were found crammed in the truck in the early hours of the day, police added. The labourers were let off and sent back to their houses in the city.
A truck driver and owner of a transport firm were also booked Saturday for allegedly trying to illegally transport 40 people to Uttar Pradesh. “Around 40 people had gathered in a lane near Mohamed Ali Road. When our patrolling staff inquired, one of them informed that they were going back to their native places in UP. On further prodding, the men said that they had paid Rs 3,000 to the driver to take them to UP on his truck,” a police officer said.
Police registered a case under relevant sections of IPC and the National Disaster Management Act and served the two men notices. “We have not arrested them, but recorded their statements,” the officer said.
In another case, Nagpada police arrested two truck drivers after they were tipped that around 110 migrants were being transported in two trucks from Kamathipura in central Mumbai. “We sent a team and arrested the two drivers. We learnt that the daily wage earners wanted to head back to their villages as their employers had stopped payment,” an officer said. Police have sent the migrant labourers to a nearby ground where they were provided food and blankets. Police also contacted their employers and directed them to pay salaries to the labourers.
Similarly, Navghar police Saturday intercepted four vehicles found illegally transporting several labourers to Yavatmal and places in northern India. “We have been checking each vehicle to check such illegal transportation of vehicles. One truck had around 40 labourers, while at least three tempos were caught ferrying 10 to 12 migrant workers,” said Pushkraj Suryavanshi, senior police inspector of Navghar police station. The drivers and owners of the four vehicles were arrested and later released on bail.