Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has blamed the non-cooperative attitude of some states for the terrible condition of migrant labourers, despite the Centre having arranged adequate number of trains for them.
In an exclusive interview with IANS, Naqvi says the Centre has been making arrangements for the migrants’ return. “We are running Shramik specials…we want all our brothers and sisters to be back safely in their homes. But some states are not allowing these trains to pass through their territories. See, maximum such trains have been allowed by the Uttar Pradesh government — 386 trains have rescued such labourers. Similarly, Bihar has allowed 204 trains and Madhya Pradesh 66. But in several other states such trains are far less — Odisha (46 trains), West Bengal and Chhattisgarh (seven each), Rajasthan (18) and Maharashtra only 11 trains — because of these states’ limited permission. The Opposition-ruled states just don’t want to take these labourers back,” he said.
But what would happen if all such workers and labourers return home, how would industries resume their work? The Minister said such a migration is driven by helplessness; whenever all facilities return to life, their work will resume and all of them would return. The Centre has announced a Rs 20 lakh-crore package which would help all — works/labourers, traders or big industries. “The Centre firmly believes that these brothers and sisters would be back to their work.”
On ‘Self-reliant India’ campaign spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naqvi said this would strengthen ‘swadeshi’ and would result in all-embracing development. The Minister said India has begun its onward march to globalization by choosing the ‘swadeshi’ way to transform ‘local into global’. “This would also encourage ease of doing business, encompassing development of agriculture and dairy sectors.”
How would there be an immediate relief to the poor and daily wagers? Naqvi said the government has transferred Rs 52,606 crore to the accounts of over 41 crore people, including the poor, labourers, women and the elderly. “We would have to convert this crisis into opportunity. We are transforming ourselves in the vision of self-reliant India, which would lead to solutions to various problems”.
The government’s reform process is on a very large scale keeping in view the enormity of the present crisis, he said. “You have observed that many states have amended the labour laws, which would enhance the pace of work. The government has also decided to amend the Essential Commodities Act 1955, which would enable farmers to keep the farm produce as per their need and sell their produce as per their choice so that they get remunerative prices.
Praising the role of Prime Minister Modi during the Covid-19 crisis, Naqvi said he has led the country like a warrior. “His role has come out as a crisis-solver before the world. He has raised the morale of the people and has helped other countries.”
On the role of Tablighi Jamaat during the corona crisis, he said: “Undoubtedly these people have been recognized as corona carriers across the world. The virus spread because of them. Theirs was an instance of criminal negligence. The law is taking its course”. But he sought to remind that some people have gone out to defend the act of the Jamaat to an extent which is surprising. “It would have been better had those associated with Tablighi Jamaat come forward to apologize. On the contrary, some people are justifying the Jamaat act, which is worrying”.
The Minister gave an instance of the Jain community in Madhya Pradesh. A large crowd had gathered in connection with a function of the community, but soon they realized their mistake and those people returned home. “Several Jain seers apologized for this incident. That’s how a society should conduct itself,” he said.