Surat: Migrant workers’ struggle to return home took a violent turn on Saturday as hundreds clashed with police at Mora village in Gujarat’s Surat district. Amidst the escalating protests, The Quint has reported that a local man, Rajesh Varma, described by the portal as a BJP worker, has duped 100 labourers by charging them thrice the actual ticket price for passage to their home state of Jharkhand. However, no train was supposed to leave for Jharkhand after Monday and eventually the labourers discovered that they had been cheated.
“On Friday, 8 May, a video surfaced where a man who is seen bleeding from his forehead claimed that Varma had asked each person to pay around Rs 2,000 for a ticket (actually worth at Rs 750) back to Jharkhand. Even amid the lockdown, the workers arranged for the money and together paid around Rs 1.40 lakh to Varma,” the report said. The BJP denies Varma is with the party, with Surat BJP president Nitin Bhajiawala telling PTI, “Rajesh Verma is not a BJP worker. The party has not asked any of its workers to book tickets. The party has nothing to do with this.”
However, The Quint said a “note with BJP’s letterhead reads that Varma was indeed appointed by the Surat BJP to help the migrant workers from Jharkhand with their tickets and forms.” The man who was bleeding had allegedly been beaten for protesting at Varma’s house. In a similar instance, a video watermarked Ahmedabad Mirror shows an alleged BJP councillor’s brother promising train tickets to purported migrant workers. For Saturday morning’s agitation than 40 workers were detained, PTI said. Several of them pelted stones at police vehicles in Mora village near the industrial town of Hazira, according to an official.
Protesting workers demanded that the district administration arrange for their travel back to their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, among others states. Most of these labourers worked in industrial units at Hazira and lived in Mora village, the official said, adding that the police had cordoned off the area and tightened security there.