Ahmedabad/New Delhi: Hindi-speaking migrants continued to flee Gujarat on Tuesday after attacks by Gujarati youths, taking the figure of exodus so far to allegedly over 60,000, even as a political blame game broke out between the ruling BJP and Opposition Congress over the trouble in six districts.
Chief minister Vijay Rupani attacked the Congress for inciting the violence and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi blamed joblessness under the BJP rule for sparking the local youths’ outburst against migrant workers.
Over 450 people have so far been arrested and 56 FIRs registered after sporadic incidents of violence were reported from Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Ahmedabad, Gandhin-agar and other areas in north Gujarat following the rape of a 14-month-old Thakor community girl in Sabarkantha district on September 28 by a migrant labourer from Bihar. The accused has been arrested.
Shyam Singh Thakur, president of the Uttar Bhartiya Vikas Parishad, an outfit of north Indians in Gujarat, said that the situation in the state has become normal but people who had decided earlier to leave the state continue to board buses and trains.
He said that more than 60,000 Hindi-speaking migrant labourers have fled the state so far.
In a Facebook post, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said “poor” economic policies, demonetisation and a “poorly-implemented” GST has led to closure of factories and rise in unemployment that is being manifested in violent attacks on migrants across Gujarat.
He said there is growing frustration and anger against the government’s “inability” to create jobs.
“Across Gujarat, poor economic policies, demonetisation and poorly executed GST have devastated industry resulting in shutting down of factories and industrial units, leading to massive unemployment,” he said, describing the attacks as bad for business and asking the government to act decisively to restore peace and ensure safety of every Indian.
In a series of tweets, chief minister Rupani asked whether Mr Gandhi will take action against his own party’s “members who incited violence against migrants in Gujarat”.
The BJP has been blaming Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor and his outfit Gujarat Kshatriya-Thakor Sena for the outbreak of violence against Hindi-speaking people in the state.
“The Congress first incites violence against migrants. Congress president tweets to condemn this violence. Does the Congress president not have any shame?” asked Mr Rupani in a tweet.
“If the Congress president is against the violence in Gujarat, he needs to take action against his own members who incited violence against the migrants in Gujarat. Tweeting is not the solution, taking action is! But will he act?” he tweeted.
A video in which Mr Thakor is purportedly seen making a speech against migrant workers has gone viral and is considered to be responsible for the violence against Hindi-speaking population.
“These people who have come from outside, they commit crime, they beat up common villagers and they go back to their state.
“Such people have jobs here in Maruti and other companies but our people do not have jobs here,” Mr Thakor said while addressing a gathering in Bhaucharji town of Mehsana district of North Gujarat.
“Gujaratis are being thrown out of factories… Gujaratis are dying due to starvation,” he said in the video probably shot by a mobile phone.
Meanwhile, Hindi-speaking factory workers continued to flee Gujarat by taking trains and buses, which were running jam-packed.
There were also reports of bus fares being raised in view of the increased demand coming in from some places.
Some people said they were scared and alleged that they were threatened to flee or face consequences.
“Some people came to our area last night and asked me to leave the place immediately and go back to my home state or they will thrash me,” a migrant worker told reporters at the Ahmedabad railway station.
In Patna, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said top officials from the state are in constant touch with their counterparts in Gujarat and appealed to Biharis living in the western state to stay firmly where they were.
“Our chief secretary and DGP are in constant touch with their counterparts in Gujarat. We are keeping a watch on the situation there. I would also appeal to the people (from Bihar living in Gujarat) that they stay firmly where they were notwithstanding the incidents that have taken place,” said Mr Kumar, a day after he spoke to Gujarat chief minister over the recent attacks.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who also spoke to Mr Rupani on Monday, said, “The Gujarat chief minister told me over the phone that there has been no incident in the past three days and that he had appealed to people against paying heed to any rumours.”