The Idea of India: Crimes Against Migrants

Betwa Sharma
Migrants labourers walk on a road as they wait for transportation to go back to their hometowns in Allahabad on May 24, 2020. 

Welcome to the latest instalment of The Idea of IndiaHuffPost India’s monthly conversation about how we see ourselves as a people and as a nation.

In this instalment, we take a moment to consider the toddler trying to wake up her mother who had died of hunger and exhaustion at a railway station in Bihar, and a father whose four-year-old son died as he hunted for milk at the same station. There were two more deaths on a train pulling into Uttar Pradesh that same day. These are latest in an endless parade of horror stories that give us fleeting glimpses into the unimaginable suffering unleashed by a nation on its poorest citizens. Prime Minister Narendra Modi claims to understand the adversity faced by India’s migrant workers, but has done little to alleviate this crisis that will stain its history. His government has refused to spend the additional money that may have yielded some succour to the millions trying to survive the coronavirus pandemic without a roof over their heads and food on their plates.

The pandemic has left a trail of devastation all over the world, but nowhere have people been subjected to the untold misery and humiliation borne by India’s migrant workers. More than 100 have died not because of the coronavirus, but in road accidents as they walk for days or use any transport they can find to reach home. The rest of India in the early days of the lockdown was sympathetic, but had nothing but praise for Modi for managing to lock down a country of 1.2 billion people and preventing the virus-linked catastrophe the world was predicting for India. Now, as migrant deaths become routine, our intermittent pangs of sympathy have also receded.

While the pandemic has left a trail of devastation all over the world, nowhere have people been subjected to the untold misery and humiliation borne by India’s migrant workers.

When an opportunity to make amends via the much ballyhooed “10% of GDP” economic stimulus came around, HuffPost...

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