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Plea on migrants: SC says can’t stop people from walking

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition that said that the Centre be asked to provide food and water to migrants who are on the move. The Apex Court said that it is difficult for the court to monitor who is walking and not walking. It said that the state needs to decide and questioned why the court should hear or decide on the matter.

The petition filed by a lawyer Alakh Srivastava wanted the court’s directions to the Centre to identify migrants who are walking on the roads and provide them with food and shelter. The lawyer had also referred to the Aurangabad incident in which 16 migrants had been killed after sleeping on the track. They were walking back to their homes.

The court said that how can such incidents be stopped when anyone sleeps on a railway track. The Centre had on its part told the court that the government had already started providing transport service to ensure that migrants reach their homes. He said the state and Centre cannot help it if the migrants are not willing to wait for their turn. He said as per agreement between states, eventually all migrants will be ferried.

It should be noted that several migrants in India, unable to earn an income due to the lockdown, have resorted to walking back home rather than go hungry at their place of work. This has resulted in many of them collapsing on their journey due to lack of food and water.