Migrant labourers: Govt need to answer questions

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Following severe criticism from various quarters of the society regarding the inflow of migrant labourers into Kashmir, the administration of Monday came up with a clarification suggesting that the incoming labourers are being tested for Covid-19 at Qazigund toll post. There has been a huge rush of labourers from other parts of the country to Kashmir from past several days and it has caused panic among the locals who have expressed apprehensions that these labourers are not observing the quarantine guidelines till their test reports are available. The administration on Monday said that the concerned authorities have collected collected 14002 samples of  labourers arriving at Qazigund toll post in the Valley for COVID-19 testing from July 14 to 20. Giving details, a spokesman of the government said that a total of 1012 samples were collected from the arriving labourers at Toll Post Qazigund on July 14; 2227 on July 15; 2099 on July 16; 2350 on July 17; 2893 samples were collected on July 18; 2000 on July 19; and 1421 on July 20 for corona virus testing. However, the spokesman was silent about the quarantine of the labourers whose samples have been collected. And that is the question which basically the concerned people have been asking.

Given the recent spike in the Covid-19 positive cases and infection related deaths, the authorities have been re-imposing restrictions in different areas. In such a scenario, allowing thousands of labourers to enter Valley sans logic. Agreed that the authorities are collecting the samples of these labourers at entry points for Covid-19 testing but has the administration some mechanism in place to check whether the incoming labourers are following the SOP regarding quarantine? Reports suggest that most of the labourers have been directly landing in the brick klin areas of Budgam where they intend to work. Aren’t such labourers ticking bombs, risking their lives and the lives of others? The recent reports suggesting that a few hundred labourers have already tested positive, would the administration mind sharing with the people that whether these positive cases have been isolated or not?

In the first place, the UT administration should not have allowed any such labourers to enter Kashmir. Agreed that there has been a labour crisis in certain sectors in Kashmir and due to this crisis the rates of bricks have sky rocketed thus impacting the construction sector but that doesn’t mean that lives of lakhs of Kashmiris should be put to risk by bringing in labourers from other areas of the country. If it was inevitable, why didn’t the administration make a public announcement and why it didn’t devise a proper mechanism to ensure that not a single infected person is allowed to enter Kashmir. The administration has to answer these question and share, whatever, information it possesses regarding testing and quarantine  of these labourers.

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