A shocking video from Uttar Pradesh has gone viral, showing some migrant laborers being “disinfected”. The incident happened just after the Supreme Court took a petition seeking relief for the thousands of migrants who were trying to arrive home by walking amid the 21-day lockdown.
Migrant laborers returning to their homes from cities were forced by the administration in Bareilly to take an open bath in groups with sanitizer solution before they were allowed entry into the district. Some officials ask the migrants to close their eyes and spray the disinfectors. Among the group of migrants were men, women and children.
Many were seen crying out as their eyes sting. A man can be heard saying in the clip: “Apni ankhen band kar lo. Bacchon ki ankhen band kar lo (please shut your eyes, also close eyes of the kids).”
After the video led to criticism of the district administration, an official said: “The migrants were sprayed with a mix of chlorine and water… No chemical solution was used. We asked them to keep their eyes shut.”
Several important personalities have criticised the incident. Opposition leaders such as Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and BSP chief Mayawati have attacked the district administration, calling the action “inhuman”.
“We did not mean to be inhuman… It was important to sanitise everyone and there was a huge rush as large number of people had returned. So we did what we thought was best,” he added.
Bareilly District Magistrate in a tweet said the video is being investigated. “Under Chief Minister Office’s supervision, those affected are being treated. The civic body and fire brigade team were asked to sanitise buses… but they did this because they were overzelous. Action has been initiated against officials concerned,” he wrote.
Last week, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus outbreak, lakhs of migrants were left stranded in different parts of the country. The deadly virus has infected more than 1000 in the country, killing at least 29.