The Telegraph – Over 6.44 lakh migrants register for returning home, Captain Amarinder Singh seeks special trains

Just 6.44 lakh migrant workers have registered on the state government’s specially created portal (www.covidhelp.punjab.gov.in) for seeking details of migrants desiring to return home.

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 04 May 2020. Over 6.44 lakh migrants, stranded in Punjab due to nation-wide lockdown for preventing the spread of Covid-19, have expressed interest in returning to their native places.

These over 6.44 lakh migrant workers have registered on the state government’s specially created portal (www.covidhelp.punjab.gov.in) for seeking details of migrants desiring to return home.

As per rough estimates, Ludhiana alone had over seven lakh migrant labourers, with the whole of Punjab having over a million of them. About 70 per cent of these labourers in Punjab hail from Bihar.

Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, on Monday, sought special trains for 10 to 15 days for these migrant workers.

In a letter to Union home minister Amit Shah, the CM sought his personal intervention to arrange special trains for the next 10-15 days, beginning 5 May, for transporting migrant labourers stranded in Punjab to their homes in other states.

He urged the Union home minister to direct the Ministry of Railways to make suitable arrangements since the migrant labourers stranded in Punjab were “understandably restless to return to their native places.”

In his letter to Shah, Amarinder said that his government would indicate its daily requirement of trains in advance to the Ministry of Railways for the next 10-15 days to transport all the people who had registered on the portal.

At the local level, the CM said Punjab officers were coordinating with the senior Railways officers and the officers of recipient states to plan the smooth movement of the migrants.

He said a large number of labourers come seasonally from UP, Bihar and other eastern states to seek temporary employment in both industrial and agricultural sector in Punjab.

These people, who were due to leave in March, normally after Holi, could not leave due to the imposition of lockdown this year, he pointed out.

Though the state government had made all possible arrangements to provide them food and shelter in the past six weeks, they were now naturally keen to get back home, said Amarinder, urging the Home Minister to immediately intervene in view of the “special exigency”.

Over 6.44 lakh migrants register for returning home, Capt seeks special trains

The Tribune – Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu to rescue of craftsmen

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 04 may 2020. A day after The Tribune highlighted the plight of the thathera community (utensil-makers) amid the Covid-19 lockdown, former legislator Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu on Monday visited their locality in Jandiala Guru and distributed ration kits among nealy 200 families.

“After reading about the hardships being faced by them due to the lock-down, I decided to provide them with essentials,” she said.

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/dr-navjot-kaur-sidhu-to-rescue-of-craftsmen-80346

Gentbrugge/Ledeberg – Park de Vijvers

Van Hoorebekestraat
24 March 2020


Not my favourite shop !


Beautiful mural


New path leading to Park de Vijvers


Park de Vijvers


Kids are not allowed to play due Covid-19


A ‘vijver’ is a pond and there are plenty of them in this park

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

OFMI – Documentary exposes Hindu nationalist persecution of Indian Christians

Murder of Australian missionary family among many atrocities

New Delhi – India, 04 May 2020. Investigating the ongoing wave of Christian persecution in India, a new documentary highlights the tragic 1999 murder of an Australian missionary and his two young sons to expose the violence perpetrated by Hindu nationalists against minorities.

Graham Staines devoted over 30 years of his life to serving lepers in Odisha, India alongside his family. “Their work caught the attention of many, including one Dara Singh,” says activist Jada Bernard as he narrates the documentary. “Dara considered their charitable labors to be an attack on his homeland, and sought to end not only the work, but also the lives of the workers.”

A member of the religious militant organization, Bajrang Dal, Dara led a mob of 50 who burned Staines and his sons Phillip (10) and Timothy (6) alive while they slept in their station wagon. “Sadly, Philip and Timothy were not the first Christians murdered for being non-Hindu in India, nor were they the last,” explains Bernard.

In the 15-minute documentary, Bernard describes how violence against minorities is integral to the activities of Hindu nationalist groups, like Bajrang Dal, which operate under the umbrella of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) paramilitary.

“Hindutva is a specific type of radical religious nationalism bent on ‘cleansing’ India of non-Hindus,” says Bernard. “The Hindutva ideology lives as a menace in murderous mobs, but its place in India’s legal framework is secured in anti-conversion laws, which now restrict religious freedom in over a third of Indian states.

Homes and churches are destroyed with constant false accusations of forced conversions. Christian pastors are forced to renounce their Christianity, and if they refuse, they are tortured, burned with acid, even dismembered for their faith.”

Entitled “Remembering the Staines,” the documentary’s release follows the 21st anniversary of the murder of the Staines, which occurred on the night of January 22, 1999.

“Violence against minorities is integral to the activities of the Sangh groups, and only grows more frequent as the Sangh fills the seats of power in India’s national government,” warns Bernard.

He describes how Pratap Sarangi is now a cabinet minister in the Central Government despite leading the Bajrang Dal in Odisha during the murder as well as being repeatedly implicated in and arrested for numerous crimes against minorities.

“This film urges everyone to share this information with their legislators and policy-makers,” says Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India. “Those elected officials, especially in the US, should be made aware of how the Sangh has put down roots in society and politics in America and globally.

There are US congressional representatives who are bought and sold by the same organizations responsible for the massacre of Christians and murder of pastors and missionaries like Graham Staines and his young boys.

We hope this documentary draws greater awareness to the plight of Christians and other minorities in India, but we also want it to highlight the threat of Hindutva and inspire people to work to uproot that violent, supremacist ideology all over the globe.”

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity. Visit OFMI.org for more information.

www.OFMI.org

Scroll.in – The Daily Fix – Centre tried to charge migrants to go home. Now it is resorting to embarrassing damage control

The BJP’s claims of paying for 85% of the fare and of only Congress states charging workers are untrue.

Rohan Venkataramakrishnan

New Delhi – India, 05 May 2020. Everything about the Indian government’s policy towards the country’s large, vulnerable population of migrant workers has been a mess.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-week lockdown was announced with just four hours’ notice, with no thought for their needs, leading to a mass exodus of people setting off for their home villages on foot and cycle.

The government’s response was to ask the police to beat them into staying at home, forcing migrants into desperate measures like traveling in a cement mixer.

States ended up forcing them into shelters that were often unsanitary, with horrific facilities and insufficient food. The Centre refused to provide cheap food-grains to the states, which would have helped universalise India’s food ration system and allow migrants didn’t need ration cards for the states they were stranded in.

When movement of workers was finally announced, it was clear that the government saw them as labour resources, not human beings and citizens with desires, since they were only permitted to move to go to work, and not go home.

And now, five weeks after the lock-down, with the government finally permitting movement for a limited set of stranded migrants, it wants to charge them money to do so.

Special trains and buses were organised for the movement of those stranded, but the Indian Railways made it very clear in a May 2 order that the tickets would be printed and handed to state governments, which would then collect the ticket fare from the passengers and hand this to the Railways.

This naturally turned into a political controversy, since it seemed heartless for the Indian state, after all it had put migrants through, coupled with the fact that in almost all cases they had been left without wages and often with unpaid arrears, to charge them for a journey home.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi said that the party would collect funds to pay for all the migrants, a move echoed by other parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal, prompting a day of political squabbling, with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party forced into damage control.

Later in the day the BJP and the government attempted to claim that the fault was of the states, and Congress ones in particular, because the Centre was paying for 85% of the fare, and asking the state government to contribute just 15%. It also claimed that Congress states were the only ones charging migrant workers for travel.

All of this is untrue

First, the Centre is not paying 85% of the fare. There is no order to that effect anywhere. Though it is unclear why he spoke about this, Lav Agarwal, the joint secretary, health, told reporters on Monday that the Centre was paying for 85% of the cost, not the fare, while states were paying for 15%.

BJP National General Secretary attempted to explain this.

What is the difference? Indian railway fares are always subsidised to keep ticket prices low.

The Centre wants to claim that paying this subsidy amounts to covering 85% of the cost, while it asked the states to collect the remaining amount, in other words, the full fare including an extra cost for taking fewer passengers because of physical distancing, from the workers.

Remember here that inter-state travel is a Central subject. All of this, from the organisation of travel to the cost, should have been sorted out by the Centre.

Next comes the claim that it only wanted states to pay the full fare, which it calls the remaining 15%, not the migrants. Yet the 02 May order belies that. And it claimed that only Congress states were passing this cost onto to the migrants.

The actual experience of workers taking trains in BJP states makes it clear that this is false. Workers taking a train from Gujarat (a BJP state) to Uttar Pradesh (a BJP state) told the Ahmedabad Mirror that they had to borrow money to be able to pay for the tickets. An Indian Express report from Gujarat reiterates this point.

Some state governments did say that they would cover the fares, but the Express reported that Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan had decided to do this, none of them BJP states.

Clearly, the claims of the BJP and the government were entirely untrue. The Centre had wanted to charge labourers for the return journey. But the amounts would have been a pittance to the Centre, even in Covid-19 times. So why would it possibly have taken such a callous step?

One answer comes from Karnataka, where workers were also being asked to pay for state buses to go home.

“If we provide free transport, everyone will return home, creating problems both in the villages, triggering fear of spread of Covid-19, and here in the city, hampering revival of economic activity, including construction work,” a senior Karnataka official told the Hindu. “As we are charging them, only those who genuinely need to go home will go.”

If this logic is the same that applied to the Centre’s decision on charging train fares, it appears to be yet another instance of utilitarian policy making, thinking of migrant workers as nothing but resources to be saved in the city, even if their desire is to go home.

This has been exposed by the current controversy, and now the BJP is engaging in an ugly, embarrassing effort at backtracking to avoid the political fallout.

Even if it can’t let migrant workers go home, India must treat them justly and humanely

Migrant workers are individuals with rights, not resources to be deployed as the economy is rebooted

Why is India spending money showering petals on hospitals but making workers pay for train tickets?

https://scroll.in/article/961046/centre-tried-to-charge-migrants-to-go-home-now-it-is-resorting-to-embarrassing-damage-control