Fake news caused exodus of migrant workers: minister responds to question by Trinamool MP Mala Roy in Parliament

The movement of migrant workers from where they worked to their home states after the country-wide lockdown was announced in March to contain COVID-19, was because of “fake news”, the Home Ministry said in Parliament on Tuesday. On Monday, the Union Labour Ministry had told the Parliament that there is no data on migrant deaths, so the question of compensation “does not arise”.  This had led to massive outrage and anger among Opposition political parties.

“The migration of large number of migrant workers was triggered by panic created by fake news regarding duration of lockdown, and people, especially migrant labourers, were worried about adequate supply of basic necessities like food, drinking water, health services and shelter,” Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said in his response. He was responding to a written question by Trinamool Congress MP Mala Roy who had inquired about the steps taken by the government to protect migrant labourers before the lockdown was announced. Many had started walking home due to the absence of transport and had died during the journey.

Rai added that the Centre was “fully conscious” of this, and took “all necessary measures” to ensure that “during the inevitable lockdown, no citizen should be deprived of basic amenities of food, drinking water, medical facilities etc.” In view of this, the Minister of State for Home added, that the Centre had allowed state governments to use the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for temporary accommodation, food, clothing, medical care etc to the homeless as well as the migrant workers. The Centre released an advance of Rs 11,092 crore to the states on April 3, he said.

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