Hundreds of migrants were stopped on Sunday by police in border districts of Uttar Pradesh from travelling to their native places by unauthorised vehicles and on foot during the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, leading to protests in some areas.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had on Saturday directed district authorities not to allow migrants to travel by unsafe means and to ensure that they are transported in buses after 26 workers who were returning to their homes died in a truck-trailer collision in Auraiya.
On Jhansi-Shivpuri border, police stopped trucks and other private vehicles ferrying migrants on Saturday night leading to protests.
Senior officials reached the spot and at 2 AM it was decided that the people will be allowed to proceed further after undergoing screening for coronavirus symptoms, according to Divisional Commissioner, Jhansi divison, Subhash Chandra Sharma.
Haryana officials said a number of buses arranged by the state government for ferrying migrant workers to different parts of Uttar Pradesh had to return to Yamunanagar due to fears of law and order problem after protests by a large number of migrants on the Saharanpur highway.
The migrants, who were reportedly kept in a shelter home in Saharanpur after they entered UP from neighbouring states, were demanding that they be sent home.
Hundreds of migrants who were trying to cross into Uttar Pradesh from Delhi were also stopped at the Ghazipur flyover.
"We have been directed to ensure that no person without proper authorisation crosses the border. There is nothing we can do for these people," said police officer present on the spot.
Anil Soni, a house painter by profession, tried to cross Delhi-UP border along with his family when the policemen stopped them.
"I lost work because of lockdown and coronavirus, because people do not want any unknown person to enter their homes," he said.
Accompanied by his wife and three children, the youngest just ten months old, Soni hoped to make it to his home in Badayun in UP.
"I will not come back here even if I have to beg at home. This is no life. Can you tell me what am I supposed to do. Policemen do not allow us to go ahead and there are no buses or trains even if one is ready to buy a ticket," he said.
Three container trucks carrying over 170 migrant workers were seized by UP police in Shamli and Muzaffarnagar since Saturday.
The police action came after at least 26 migrants were killed and 34 others injured in the Auraiya incident
"The chief minister has said that directions have been given to all the border areas to ensure that no person travels by unsafe means such as trucks.
"Directions have already been issued to keep 200 buses under the disposal of district magistrates in every district of border areas. Funds have also been approved to send the labourers by buses. The district magistrates must strictly comply with these orders," a UP government statement had said after the accident on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, BSP leader Mayawati claimed that a number of migrant labourers from UP, who were staying in Punjab and Chandigarh, are returning home through the Yamuna river and it can lead to mishaps anytime.
The Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday said a total of 16.50 lakh migrant workers have already returned to the state through trains and other means of transport.
The lockdown which started on March 25 to check the spread of coronavirus has left lakhs of migrant wokers without a livelihood, forcing them to return to their native places.
Shramik special trains are being run since May 1 for the migrants, but a large number of people have not been able to avail the facility.
Buses have also been arranged by some states, still they have been inadequate and many people have been trekking for hundreds of kilometres or travelling in crowded trucks and other vehicles on long perilous road journeys.