Corona migrants: Punjab asks tehsildars to issue curfew passes

Amritsar: Amritsar observes complete shutdown after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced a full curfew in the state with no exemption even in daily needs and medical stores, in Amritsar on March 23, 2020. (Photo: IANS)

Chandigarh: Sensing hardship being faced by migrant labourers with the imposition of lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Punjab government on Friday authorised all tehsildars 9local revenue officials) to issue curfew passes to enable them to return to their native places.

many daily-wagers and factory workers are walking out of industrial towns of Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh and Jalandhar in panic to their native places in Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh as they look for transport.

“Even those who want to travel to other places owing to genuine exigency, they can get a pass from the tehsildar,” Revenue Minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar told the media.

Earlier, only Deputy Commissioners were authorised to issue such passes.

“We are getting calls from people that their children are stuck in other districts or even out of the state. Such people can approach tehsildars for passes,” he said.

Kangar said the government is trying to get back those farm labourers who are held up in Maharashtra due to the lockdown.

Every year hundreds of people go to Maharashtra and other states along with their machines for harvesting wheat.

Health Minister Balbir Sidhu said instructions have been issued to authorities to allow people to travel to major hospitals like the PGI in Chandigarh for getting treatment like chemotherapy.

“We are going back to our native place in Budaun in Uttar Pradesh. Since buses are not available, we have decided to walk to reach home via Delhi,” Naresh Yadav, a part-time industry worker, said in Ludhiana.

Small-time carpenter Mithu Ram from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh said he was running short of money since the curfew came into force. “It is better to die in home than dying on a roadside.”

Former minister Bikram Singh Majithia on Friday distributed essential food items to the poor and disadvantaged at several places in the Majitha constituency in Amritsar.

He appealed to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to take immediate steps to make food available to the poor to avoid a law and order situation in the state.

Majithia, who took the help of village representatives and ward members besides representatives from civil society to distribute food kits to the needy, appealed to the state government to form committees at the village and ward level to ensure efficient distribution of food to the needy.

The Shiromani Akali Dal leader said the poor, including rural labour and urban daily wagers, were the most affected by the complete curfew imposed in the state.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh two days back urged the Centre and the Maharashtra government to immediately arrange for the evacuation of 2,000 Punjabi pilgrims from the Nanded Sahib gurdwara, where they are stuck in the wake of the nationwide lockdown.

The Chief Minister said the state had already taken up the matter with the Ministry of Railways to allow plying of special trains to evacuate these stranded pilgrims.