The so-called migrants are actually our own,Indian citizens,who live in hovels in Bombay's tony Cuffe Parade beneath the glitzy apartments that many of them built with their own hands.They work for the extremely well-heeled occupants too ,as drivers,watchmen,maids,nannies,etc. Others in hotels and cafes of all types and offices of the city.They are the backbone of the construction industry,but greedy developers allegedly in Bangalore got their relief trains cancelled as their construction projects would be severely affected if they left! They have a right to live and own property anywhere in India.But for their poverty which forced them to leave their far- off homes, they are taken for granted.The lowest level of slave labour,who in their millions have been abandoned by the Centre,States and by most of their employers . AC trains for stranded respectable citizens only,cattle class gaadis for the
"guest "worker, adding salt to the wound as we in India love to boast that the " guest is God"!
The treatment of those trekking home or demanding transport was abominable.Lathi charged,tear gassed,sprayed with chemicals like fields with pesticide, women giving birth on the dusty,filthy, roads. Many dying en route to their villages due to starvation, others killed in accidents involving overcrowded vehicles,run over by trains as the tired slept on railway tracks, the list can go on. We often vent venom at the EICo. for the Bengal famine,and rightly so,but
look how the buck is being passed around now in Independent India! Everyone blaming everyone else.Are our politicos- for the buck stops with them,so heartless and uncaring,living in comfort in their palatial mansions,protected from the people by layers of security! Do we really have freedom in India? If you ask the millions making their way back to their homes by any means,whether they feel " free" in India.... you know the answer you will get in return.
We have collectively shown that the majority of the nation ( I do admit that there are many glowing instances of bosses caring for their workforce,no salary cuts,etc.etc.;some NGOs doing yeoman service.Seva Bharathi to name just one,but too few to make a difference at themacro level), consider the poverty-stricken migrants,guests- call them what you will ,the backbone of the labour force of the nation, as nothing more than " untermenschen" ,what the Nazis called the Jews,gypsies and others. A sub-human species only to exploited like beasts of burden.A dark,shameful moment in our nation's history.
We have to make amends to restore their dignity and honour. A first step would be new Labour laws,plus infra facilities in all states for "guest" housing,canteens,health facilities so when calamity strikes, it will spare them another trek of hundreds of KMs back home. Part of the PM's mega relief fund must be used for this purpose.It would be wonderful to see in the future such guest construction labour take pride in building their very own hostels,health facilities,etc.