Indian police clash with migrant workers as country eases lockdown


Indian police clash with protesting migrant workers on Monday in the western state of Gujarat, officials said, even as the first steps were being taken to relax a coronavirus lockdown.

About 1,000 stranded workers seeking help to return to homes in states across India gathered on the outskirts of the industrial and diamond-processing city of Surat, but threw stones at police who ordered them to break up, an official said.

“The police fired tear gas shells to disperse protesters,”  a police official in Kadodara, near the site of the clash, told Reuters, seeking anonymity as he was not authorised to speak with media.

Television showed images of police entering buildings and homes in the area and detaining people.

Surat has suffered incidents of labour unrest since the lockdown began.

The nationwide lockdown, extended twice since it was adopted on Mar 25, is being eased in some areas, but will run until May 17, the government said last week. The tally of infections stands at more than 42,500, with 1,300 dead.

The shutdown endangers the economic survival of many of India’s estimated 140 million migrant labourers, though officials say it is key to beating the virus in a nation of 1.3 billion people, where health services are already stretched. (Source: CNA)