Gandhinagar: Coming elections cast their shadows ahead. Just a day before the Election Commission announced polls in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, migrant workers from the Hindi belt, being targeted in Gujarat, began fleeing for home, carrying discordant tales.
The trigger for this politicking was the brutal rape of a 14 month old girl of Sabarkantha district allegedly by a labourer of Bihari origin. Soon after started the targeting of migrant workers from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. The rape had taken place on September 28 but the targeting began almost a week later. As an atmosphere of fear was sought to be created through word of mouth and menacing outpourings, the exodus of people from Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh began.
Particularly, migrants from MP, Rajasthan and UP are being singled out for attention. The issue turned into a political slugfest in the face of a coordinated BJP attack on its political rivals and the Congress countrywide. Bihar Deputy chief Minister Sushil Modi was quick to allege that ‘‘forces backed by the Congress were responsible for the attacks on Biharis in Gujarat.” Attributing this information to his conversation with the Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, he sought to blame
Alpesh Thakore, Congress legislator and Gujarat Thakore Sena chief, for the attacks. Sushil Modi said that ‘‘thanks to the BJP government, Biharis were safe in Gujarat but the role of the forces backed by the Congress was regrettable”. Chimed in IK Jadeja, Vice-President of the Gujarat BJP: ‘‘The Congress has been trying to drive a wedge between Gujaratis and non-Gujaratis for long,” he added. Alpesh Thakore, a first time Congress legislator who was recently named AICC secretary for Bihar, was quick to retaliate. ‘‘We have never advocated violence and always talked peace. All Indians are safe in Gujarat,” he added.
Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said that the BJP government has lost all control over law and order. Rape incidents are on the rise. The BJP government should be ashamed; instead, it is trying to shield its own failure and blame the Congress. Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor Hardik Patel said: “I believe in the Constitution of India. It is sacrosanct and it gives right to every Indian to stay anywhere and make a living for himself. And any persons who has anything against this right of the common Indian should be dragged out of the State,” he added.
Former JD (U) president Sharad Yadav, a critic of his erstwhile party mate, Nitish Kumar, questioned why such things are happening only in BJP ruled states. ‘‘The people have lost confidence in the BJP,” he added. Meanwhile, the Gujarat police has arrested over 300 people in connection with the attack on migrants. Gujarat police boss Shivanand Jha said on Sunday that 342 people have been arrested in 42 cases of attacks on migrants. Six districts have been mainly affected by the violence with Mehsana and Sabarkantha being the worst hit. ‘‘More arrests will be made and we have put 17 companies of the SRP on the job,” he added. Jha, however, said that if people are leaving for their homes in view of festivals, it should not be seen as otherwise. ‘‘I have asked my officers and men to reach out to the migrants and, if there is any fear psychosis, to ensure that their fears are redressed”, he added.