Lucknow, Mar 30, 2020: A major controversy has erupted in Uttar Pradesh after the Bareilly district administration allegedly sprayed some kind of chemical on migrants in a bid to “sanitise” them.
The incident happened on Sunday after some migrant labourers reached the district having walked hundreds of miles following the nationwide lockdown that has been imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, News18 reported.
A 31-second clip of the incident shows a few men dressed in hazmat suits spraying some ‘chemical’ on the migrants sitting on the ground. Few policemen can also be seen standing aside while a voice can be heard saying “ankhen band rakho” (keep your eyes closed).
After the incident, several migrants, including women and children, complained of a burning sensation in their eyes. As a video and pictures of the incident went viral, child rights body NCPCR and leaders of opposition parties have sought stringent action against the errant officials.
Admitting the mistake in a tweet, District Magistrate Nitish Kumar attributed it to "over-active" civic body personnel and said action is being taken against erring officials. He said the matter is being investigated and the affected are undergoing treatment.
Stating that teams of the Bareilly Nagar Nigam and fire brigade were asked to sanitise the buses, the DM said action is being taken against those responsible for the act.
In a tweet, he wrote, “The video was investigated and those affected are being treated under the directives of the CMO. The teams of Bareilly Nagar Nigam and Fire Brigade were asked to sanitize the busses but due to hyper activity this was done. Action is being taken against those responsible for this.”
The Home Ministry has also reiterated the DM’s statement saying overzealous employees did something that was not required to be done.
The apex child rights body NCPCR has demanded disciplinary and against errant officials. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has asked the Bareilly District Magistrate to submit a report in the matter within three days.
"NCPCR has expressed serious view on this inhuman act. In view of the above incident, you are requested to get the matter inquired into urgently and issue necessary directions for immediate action thereby; ensuring adequate arrangements of basic essentials to the family members viz. provision of food, shelter and safety and wellbeing of these children of migrant workers during lockdown period," according to the letter issued by the NCPCR.
Former chief minister and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav asked if the act had any sanction from the World Health Organisation and what treatment is being given to those who are facing ‘irritation’ in their bodies due to the spraying of chemicals.
Yadav wrote on Twitter, “There are a few questions that are raised after the migrants were sprayed with chemicals for sanitization. Were there any such orders from World Health Organisation for this? What is the treatment for ‘irritation’ that was caused due to chemicals? Was there any arrangement for people to change their wet clothes? What was the alternative arrangement for food that got wet in this act?”
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister also tagged the news report with his tweet.
Another former CM and BSP supremo Mayawati slammed the administration and called the “spraying of insecticides on labourers inhuman”.
In a tweet, she said, “There have been numerous reports and heart-breaking pictures of labourers but spraying them with insecticides is inhuman and is like a punishment to them. The government should immediately take cognizance of the issue. It would have been better if the government instead of sealing the borders should have made arrangements by running special trains for a few days.”
The Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also hit out at the state government and said the labourers who are already badly affected should not further problems.
“I request to the UP Government that we all are together fighting this pandemic but such inhuman acts should not be done. The labourers have already been badly affected; they should not be sprayed with chemicals.