Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has been under fire for “dumping” migrant workers amid the Covid-29 crisis, is at the centre of yet another controversy after a controversial letter from the police headquarters surfaced this week, insinuating that the massive influx of migrant workers may cause a law and order situation.
The letter was issued on 29 May by ADG (law and order) Amit Kumar to all superintendents of police (SP). However, Kumar issued another letter on 4 June saying the earlier letter was issued by mistake and, therefore, withdrawn. ThePrint has seen copies of both the letters.
The first letter noted the huge return of migrant labourers for the last two months in the wake of the Covid lockdown.
“Due to serious financial economic challenges, all of them are tensed and in problem. Despite the efforts of the state government, the possibility of providing desired employment to all of them does not appear possible. They (migrant labourers ) may indulge in immoral and illegal activities to support themselves and their families. It can have an adverse impact on law and order,” the letter stated, asking all SPs to draw up a plan to deal with the situation.
Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey told The Print the letter was an “error of judgment”.
“Information keeps coming from districts and we analyse the information. But this letter was an error of judgment. When we realised our mistake, we withdrew the letter,” he said.
But other police officers told ThePrint the letter was not the problem. “… the letter had to be withdrawn due to political reasons,” said a police officer, who didn’t want to be named.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
‘Where are the jobs?’
The letter could not have come at a worst time for CM Nitish Kumar.
On Wednesday, while addressing panchayat members, Kumar assured the returning migrant labourers that jobs would be provided to them under various government schemes. He also blamed other states for the plight of the migrant labourers and said they shouldn’t return to those states for employment.
However, there have been reports of migrant labourers wanting to go back to the cities where they were working.
“The government is coming with figures and claims. They say they have created over 4 crore man-days for the migrant labourers. The fact is that there are people already working in various government schemes. Where are the additional jobs,” asked RJD vice-president Shivanand Tiwari.
‘Nitish made a mockery of dignity of labour’
Attacking Nitish Kumar over the letter, leader of the Opposition in the Bihar assembly Tejashwi Yadav said: “Does the Nitish government consider migrant labourers criminals?”
He said the chief minister made a mockery of the dignity of labour and dignity of human.
“The migrants are being treated as second class citizens in their own state,” Yadav said, asking the government to come out with details of employment promised to the returning migrant labourers.
Yadav further said the letter has been withdrawn by the police headquarters due to pressure from CM Kumar, who also looks after Bihar’s home department.
BJP spokesperson Rajni Ranjan Patel, however, said the NDA government in Bihar has done “everything possible for the returning migrant labourers, including transferring money, free ration for (the next) 3 months”.
“Tejashwi is trying to politicise a letter, which was issued by mistake,” he added.
Another BJP leader said: “The letter has given the opposition a weapon to beat the government during the elections despite the withdrawal.”
Bihar assembly elections are due in October-November.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.