Patna, Jun 5 (PTI) The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar found itself in an embarrassing situation Friday over a now-withdrawn circular issued by a top police official alerting districts about a possible law and order situation due to the massive influx of migrant workers.
The ADG, Law and Order, Amit Kumar issued the communication on May 29 and withdrew it through another letter on June 4. In the second letter, he said the previous communication was issued “by mistake”.
DGP Gupteshwar Pandey attempted damage-control, telling the media through videoconferencing that the government has nothing to do with the episode.
'The police headquarters does receive many inputs from various sources and disseminates them suitably. The same happened with the letter in question and it was withdrawn as we realised it did not deserve dissemination,' he said.
ADG Amit Kumar, who was also present at the conference, agreed with his boss and said the matter stood closed.
Nonetheless, copies of the letters went viral on social media, providing the opposition enough ammunition to train their guns at the government.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav claimed the letter shows the government does not believe in the dignity of labour and human life. It has for long been treating migrants as if they are second-class citizens in their home state, he alleged.
'Now, it has gone a step further and suggested they are all criminals,” Yadav, also the Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, fumed at a press conference.
Yadav, the RJD's chief ministerial candidate for assembly elections, due in a few months, underscored a passage in the contentious letter which spoke of a slim possibility that all migrant workers would get employment within the state, despite tireless efforts of the government.
This scenario, according to the ADG, could lead to spike in crime and cause law and order problems.
'So, does the government now concede that economic rehabilitation of the migrants is impossible? If it is so, why has it been misleading them with false promises day after day,' Yadav asked.
The former Deputy CM also sought to make light of the withdrawal of the communication and asked if indeed the first letter was issued by mistake, why did it take the government so long to make amends? The contents of the letter have 'exposed' the mindset of the government which has been apathetic to the plight of migrants since beginning, he said.
The Congress, an ally of the RJD in Bihar for close to two decades, also latched on the opportunity.
AICC media panelist Prem Chandra Mishra, who is also a member of the state legislative council, issued an angry statement, demanding an apology by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
He wondered if the letter withdrawing the first communication had been issued in backdate, realising the damaging effects it could have on the ruling dispensation.
Over two million migrant workers from Bihar stuck in different states during the lockdown, where they had been eking out a living, have returned to the state since Shramik Special trains began plying from May 1. Many of them have come back undertaking arduous journey on foot or in cargo vehicles.
The treatment meted out to them by the state government has come to dominate the state's political discourse -- it had initially opposed their return on the ground that it would defeat the very purpose of lockdown, which was clamped to contain the spread of COVID 19.
Election Commission officials in the state recently held a meeting where instructions were issued for updating the electoral rolls, before assembly polls.
It is expected that those who have returned from other parts of the country, and are not willing to go back, may form a good chunk of voters, a reason why they are being pursued avidly by parties on both sides.
RJD state president Jagadanand Singh asking his cadre to extend assistance to the migrants and egg them on to join the party had drew angry reaction from the NDA. PTI NAC SNS TIR