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Vijayan blames 'forces' out to create unrest behind migrant


Press Trust of India Thiruvananthapuram
As migrant workers his roads in the state violating lockdown, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday said there was a conspiracy behind it and lashed out at "forces" which were trying to create unrest in the society by provoking the working class during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hundreds of migrant workers in Chenganassery in Kottayam district came out on the street, violating the 21-day lockdown restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, demanding that arrangements be made for their travel to native villages in northern states.
Vijayan said all arrangements have been made for medical assistance to them and the government was constantly engaging with the "guest workers", as he calls them, to ensure their well-being.
"Yet there were attempts to stir up misunderstandings among them and it's a move against the state," Vijayan said adding that there "are clear indications about those forces" which had "misled and provoked" the working class.
He requested such people to "stay away from the heinous acts challenging people during the period of crisis".
The chief minister said such an incident should have never happened in the state which has "extra care and concern" for the guest workers.
He also said a senior IAS official has been assigned to coordinate the efforts and the state has opened 4,603 camps where 1,44,145 guest workers are lodged.
"In one place, some workers have expressed a desire to travel to their home states. Unfortunately, this is not possible since we are in a nationwide lockdown. Traveling at this juncture will be dangerous and counter-productive to our efforts against Covid-19," Vijayan said in a tweet.
In a statement issued later, he said those who conspired to gather the guest workers in the street will be brought before justice.
"The Prime Minister had declared that none should travel and asked everyone to stay wherever they are. We cannot allow them to travel back and everyone knows it. We need to identify those who stirred up hopes, among the guest workers, that they could go home," Vijayan said.
He said it was the responsibility of the contractors to provide food and accommodation to the labourers, but still the state has been taking care of it for many in this period of crisis.
"Kerala, a state which performs well in health support, cannot accept such acts by which a group of people taking it to the streets and that too without the mandatory social distancing during this Covid-19 scare. We will take steps to ensure that such incidents would not be repeated," he said.
Vijayan said the state hosts a large number of workers from other states and "considers them as guest workers".
"Kerala has opened 4603 camps for the state's guest workers. 1,44,145 guest workers are in these facilities. Masks, soaps and sanitisers have been made available in these Covid-19 camps," he said.
Community kitchens were providing free cooked meals in locations across the state and in other places the authorities have delivered provisions to the workers.
He also said that in order to create awareness among the guest workers, brochures and short videos in Hindi, Odia and Bengali languages are being circulated.
"Health workers who can speak Hindi have also been deployed to improve the engagement," Vijayan said.
Kerala reported 20 positive cases of coronavirus on Sunday, taking the total number of those undergoing treatment for the deadly infection to 181 with over 1.41 lakh people under observation.

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First Published: Mar 29 2020 | 10:16 PM IST

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