In a repeat of the scenario that had unfolded in the national capital Delhi a few weeks ago, thousands of people gathered in Bandra, Mumbai, today (14 April), breaching the anti-coronavirus lockdown. Police and some local politicians reached the spot only to find that the crowd just wouldn’t listen to their pleas to go back home.
Mumbai Police had to take recourse to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd and take control of the situation.
The out-of-control crowd had a tale similar to that of their Delhi counterparts although they spoke more about money than food. They claimed they had no employment since the beginning of the lockdown last month.
In the virtual world, the bourgeois breast-beating crowd on social media latched on to the opportunity immediately. However, since the local government is an ally of the ‘secular’ brigade as of now, sympathy and even appreciation for the Uddhav Thackeray administration replaced shedding copious tears for the ‘have-nots’.
Meanwhile, as in Delhi, the authorities and non-government organisations said here as well that they have enough supply for food for the poor. Yet, some officials of the Maharashtra government shared with reporters, dismayed, that this crowd wanted to go back to their respective home states due to the lockdown.
Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Mumbai Police DCP Pranay Ashok said, “Around 1,500 people gathered near the Bandra railway station at 4 PM today. Most of them were migrant labourers. Saddened by the lockdown, they wanted to go back to their homes. They put their demands before the administration. “
Ashok described the situation as “normal”.
Police said, “The local police officers went to the spot and talked to them and tried to convince them.
But a part of the crowd turned violent; so, the police said, they had to use “mild force” to control them. “The crowd was dispersed. Police have been deployed. The situation is normal,” said the PRO.
Following the Bandra incident, Home Minister Amit Shah called Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and expressed concern over the incident. Shah said that such an incident would weaken India’s fight against the epidemic of coronavirus disease.
The union home minister assured the chief minister of the Centre’s full support in the matter.
The Maharashtra chief minister said this had happened due to the rumour that trains had begun plying to send migrant workers home! He said, “The situation should not be politicised.”
Aaditya Thackeray’s accusatory tweets about Mumbai eruption
Later on, the chief minister’s son struck a note of reconciliation, saying,
MP of the constituency Poonam Mahajan spoke to this correspondent, calling the incident “unfortunate” and demanding an investigation into the sudden eruption.
On being told about Aaditya Thackeray’s tweets blaming the union government, she said she had posted some tweets too, beyond which she had nothing to say except that the times that the nation is going through warranted cooperation and not a blame game. “Accusing one another would not rid us of coronavirus,” she said.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji‘s message a few hours before the incident was loud and clear. He explained very well why the lockdown needed to be extended. It was for us, the people; it was for the welfare of the nation,” Mahajan told Sirf News.
“Despite such elaborate explanation, the sudden development in the evening merits an investigation without politicisation,” Mahajan said, adding that some journalists had told her even these workers were told not only that trains were leaving from Bandra to send them home but also that (like Delhi) the government had run out of food for the poor!
“Our party (BJP), along with the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, has been reaching out to the people and making arrangements for the poor,” the MP said. “They have nothing to worry,” she added.