“The Narendra Modi government does not know how many migrant labourers died and how many jobs were lost during the lockdown. If you haven’t counted, have the deaths not taken place?”
NEW DELHI — The Union Labour Ministry has said that the government has not compiled any data on migrants’ deaths during the coronavirus disease-induced lockdown and hence there will be no compensation.
The ministry said this in the Lok Sabha on the first day of the monsoon session in a written reply to a question on whether the families who lost their kin during the migrant crisis that hit India during the coronavirus-induced lockdown have been given any compensation.
The ministry said that more than one crore people made their way to home from different corners of the country during the lockdown.
The questions asked on the migrant crisis included whether the government has the data on the migrants who died on their way to home and on any compensation or financial assistance to their families.
Union Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar replied: “No such data is maintained. Question does not arise in view of the above”.
The government’s ‘no-data’ response sparked sharp reactions from the opposition and activists. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is abroad for her mother Sonia Gandhi’s health check-up, wrote a tweet in which he said the whole world saw the deaths except the Modi government.
मोदी सरकार नहीं जानती कि लॉकडाउन में कितने प्रवासी मज़दूर मरे और कितनी नौकरियाँ गयीं।
तुमने ना गिना तो क्या मौत ना हुई?
हाँ मगर दुख है सरकार पे असर ना हुई,
उनका मरना देखा ज़माने ने,
एक मोदी सरकार है जिसे ख़बर ना हुई।
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 15, 2020
He wrote: “The Narendra Modi government does not know how many migrant labourers died and how many jobs were lost during the lockdown. If you haven’t counted, have the deaths not taken place? It is sad that there has been no impact on the government. The world has seen their deaths. There is a Modi government which has no information.”
“Shocking that the Labour Ministry says it has no data on migrants’ deaths and hence no question of compensation,” Congress’s Digvijaya Singh said. “Sometimes I feel we are blind or the government feels it can take everyone for granted,”
Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac tweeted terming the Union Government’s lack of data on migrant labourers’ deaths as “callousness”. He wrote a tweet, saying, “Centre doesn’t care about deaths of migrant workers caused by pushing them into trains, makeshift carts and on foot to distant homes. At least, acknowledge tentative and incomplete data of Special Shramik Trains and road accidents.”
Utter callousness- Centre doesn’t care about deaths of migrant workers they caused by pushing them in to trains, makeshift carts and on foot to the distant homes. At least acknowledge tentative and incomplete data of rail Sharmik Trains and road accidents #migrantslivesmatter
— Thomas Isaac (@drthomasisaac) September 15, 2020
Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers were left stranded with no food and no work when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown in late March to curb the spread of coronavirus.
While the government started special trains to send the stranded people home, people complained of lack of coordination forcing many to take other more daunting means to find their way to their destination. Many died on the way.