About 4,000 signatories, including former high court judges, on Thursday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in the current humanitarian crisis unfolding with the migrant workers walking long distances to get home. Some of the signatories who endorsed the letter include former Lt. Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung, former UGC chairperson Sukhdeo Thorat and former member of planning commission, Syeda Hameed.
The appeal stated that the 'coordination and transit of internal migrants stands in stark contrast to the procedures adopted by the government to bring back migrants and Indian citizens stranded abroad.'
While the processes were quite streamlined in the case of those stranded abroad including taking care of their medical and transportation facilities, the appeal added, 'the current operations set up for the return of migrant workers, coordination between the Centre and the states, and that between states, has been rife with confusion and mismanagement.'
The letter urged the Centre 'to use all resources at its disposal and provide financial support to states for transportation and rehabilitation of migrants upon arrival,' and to provide them with 'safe passage, food, water, and medical assistance in transit'.
The letter further said that there is an urgent need for deployment of central forces whose services have been used previously to tackle natural disasters and humanitarian crisis.
The petitioners said that safe transportation of such magnitude is only possible if forces and facilities at the Centre's disposal are 'immediately deployed to bolster the grossly inadequate efforts being currently left to inter-state coordination, with meagre logistical support in providing safety, food and water to migrants on the move.'
Alleging that during the three weeks of Shramik trains operations, only 30 per cent of the migrants had returned home and in deplorable conditions, the signatories urged that more Shramik special trains must be arranged for the stranded workers.
"The shortage of trains and a labyrinthine set of procedures have led to heightened desperation and subsequently rampant overcrowding at stations, rumour mongering over train schedules and the emergence of ticket sales in black across cities," they added.