The Indian Home Ministry has issued stern guidelines to police and authorities across the country to stop people from breaching the lockdown as millions of workers have started to walk towards their homes in rural areas during the past four days.
“Directions were issued that district and state borders should be effectively sealed. States were directed to ensure there is no movement of people across cities or on highways. Only movement of goods should be allowed”, a statement issued by the ministry on Sunday reads.
The ministry noted that, by and large, there has been an effective implementation of guidelines across the country; however, “there has been movement of migrant workers in some parts of the country”.
“Those who have violated the lockdown and travelled during the period of lockdown will be subject to minimum 14 days of quarantine in government quarantine facilities”, the Home Ministry ordered.
Despite promises to make adequate arrangements for food and shelter for the poor and needy people, including migrant labourers, thousands of them are still leaving the place of their work. The Modi government has also instructed all 35 states of the country to ensure the timely payment of wages to labourers at their workplaces during the period of the lockdown without any cuts.
“House Rent should not be demanded from the labourers for this period. Action should be taken against those who are asking labourers or students to vacate the premises”, the government ordered.
Since the announcement of the 21-day lockdown by Prime Minister Modi on 24 March, migrant workers have been commuting on foot from Delhi towards their home states, citing shortages of food and money due to the closure of business establishments.
Modi said the extreme measures were needed despite hardships to the poor to halt the spread of the coronavirus in India. The Indian Health Ministry has confirmed 867 active coronavirus cases while 25 people have lost their lives in the pandemic.