Coronavirus outbreak | Extortion allegations surface against cops: 'Rs 2,000 to cross toll naka'

Updated: 31 March, 2020 07:23 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Migrants who have gone hungry for days and are massed at the city and state borders recount harrowing tales of apathy and abuse at the hands of cops

Denied entry into Gujarat by police, a woman sits by the roadside with her kids
Denied entry into Gujarat by police, a woman sits by the roadside with her kids

As if the sufferings caused due to the lockdown were not enough, the migrant labourers who have been walking for days, without food and water, to return to their home states are now being hounded by police officers. While some claim Gujarat police beat them up, others accused the officers in Maharashtra of extorting R2,000 to cross toll naka.

Hundreds of migrant labourers seeking to cross the Maharashtra-Gujarat border were chased away and beaten up by the Gujarat police, said Dr. Ritesh Patel, Medical Officer at Talasari Taluka. He added that many of them had entered Gujarat but were dumped at the border by the police. The zila parishad has given shelter to nearly 7,000 migrants at a government school in Palghar district. A medical team is conducting check-ups of the migrants at school.

Migrant labourers walk in scorching heat on Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway on Monday. Pic/Suresh KK
Migrant labourers walk in scorching heat on Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway on Monday. Pic/Suresh KK

mid-day, too, witnessed the high-handedness of the Gujarat police whose police sub inspectors — S R Patel and C B Solanki — manhandled and verbally abused the photojournalist at the border.

Some of the migrant labourers mid-day spoke alleged that the police at toll nakas between Thane and Palghar demanded bribe to let them continue their journey. Harish Patel, 35, who is headed to his hometown in Rajasthan, said the police are filling their pockets by harassing the poor.

"I owned a milk parlour in Thane but with the markets shut, we decided to return to our parents in Udaipur, Rajasthan. I booked an Innova and started our journey home, but the police at three toll nakas extorted money from us. I ran out of cash by the time we reached Charoti toll naka, so the police officers forced us out of the car and caned the driver," he alleged, while speaking to mid-day on the Mumbai Ahmedabad highway. Harish, his wife, cousins and neighbours will have to walk several kilometres before they reach home. He said he paid R2,000 in bribe at each toll naka.

'My village was 12 km away'
Four days ago, Vinod Kumar Sevak, who worked at a tea shop in Pune, boarded a bus to Mumbai so that he could return home to Dungarpur, Rajasthan.

"From Mumbai, I took a bus, then hitched a ride on a truck, and reached Gujarat. From there I started my journey on foot. I was hardly 12 km away from my native place when the Gujarat police stopped me. I requested the Gujarat police to let me go to my native place but they beat me up before pushing me inside a truck with many others and we're dropped at Andheri. This is inhumane," Sevak, 40, told mid-day. From Andheri, I once again started my journey home, on foot, he said.

Hardik Sadhu, who had come to Mumbai from Ahmedabad on March 22 for an interview at Hotel Taj, set off his journey home on foot on Sunday. He also alleged that the police officers are chasing away migrant labourers trying to reach their native villages.

7,000
No. of migrants given shelter at govt school in Palghar

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First Published: 31 March, 2020 07:01 IST

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