The Peddem sports complex in Mapusa, which acts as a shelter for the migrants, who have been stranded due to the nationwide lockdown, was on Sunday witness to a chaotic situation, as the migrant workers demanded that arrangements be made to send them to their hometowns.
The upset migrants staged a protest in front of the complex for almost five hours. A huge police force was deployed to control the situation. Besides, top officials from the Bardez taluka also had a tough time trying to convince the workers.
According to sources, the migrants, put up at the shelter, started raising their demand since 7 am in the morning to send them home. The number of migrants in distress at the Peddem complex on Saturday evening was around 928 including many from Margao who were not able to board the Shramik train, as it was full. Later in the night on Saturday, migrants who were walking towards the Keri border were brought by the authorities and also kept at the Peddem complex, taking the total number of such migrants to over 1,000.
There was confusion at the complex around 7.30 am on Sunday as the restless migrants started picking up their belongings and demanded that arrangements be made swiftly to send them home or else they should be allowed to walk back to their native towns.
One of the migrants, from Madhya Pradesh, said, “We had received a message from the state administration about a train leaving from Margao. Accordingly, we went to the Margao railway station. However, we are put together in a bus and brought here stating that the train was full. We just want to know when officers were informed about the train capacity.”
“We have been brought and kept here without any arrangement. It is hot in the complex, as there is no fan and when we come out of the complex, police ask us to go inside. We don’t know whether we will die of corona but we surely will die of hunger, as we don’t have any money with us,” said a daily worker from Uttar Pradesh.
The police team led by police inspector Tushar Lotlikar was present at the spot. Deputy Superintendent of Police Gajanan Prabhudessai was also present. However, the administration officials arrived after about an hour. Additional police force from Porvorim, Anjuna and Calangute was also called in to control the situation.
Later, after a discussion held by the administration officials, it was decided to divide the migrants into groups and shift some to other shelter homes. The officials later managed to convince the migrants to calm down.