Migrant mother pulls suitcase with child asleep on it: NHRC takes note

Issues notices to the Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh and the District Magistrate, Agra

GN Bureau | May 16, 2020


#human rights   #NHRC   #lockdown   #healthcare   #epidemic   #coronavirus   #COVID-19   #Agra   #Punjab   #Uttar Pradesh  


An image that captured the plight of migrant labourers leaving cities and walking to their homes on foot – the image of a woman walking on, pulling a suitcase behind her on which her child is asleep – has gone viral and now the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken note of it, issuing notice to various authorities.

The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports about the mother pulling a suitcase with her small child sleeping half hung on it on Agra highway. She was reportedly walking all the way from somewhere in Punjab to Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh till she caught the attention of the media persons.
 
The Commission on Friday observed that it was aware of the unprecedented situation and that the central and the state governments were working sincerely to address every issue coming up during the 52-day-old nationwide lockdown “but it is strange that the pain of the child and the family could be seen and felt by many en route except the local authorities”.

It said in a statement: “Had the local authorities been vigilant, some relief could immediately be provided to the aggrieved family and others facing the similar hardships. The incident amounts to violation of human rights and requires intervention by the NHRC.”
 
Accordingly, it has issued notices to the chief secretaries of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh and the district magistrate, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, calling for a detailed report within four weeks in the matter including the action taken against the responsible officers/ officials and relief/ assistance provided to the victim families.
 
The Commission has further observed that several news reports about miseries of people have come to its notice during the lockdown forcing it to intervene in order to sensitize the central and state authorities to deal with the situation with an approach of respect to human rights of the public at large, particularly the vulnerable sections of the society. However, media reports suggest continuing sufferings of the people, particularly the migrant labourers, whose journey long, is not coming to a halt.
 
Referring to yet another reported incident of apathy of public authorities and its suo motu cognizance of the matter wherein a female migrant labourer delivered her baby on road and continued her journey within two hours after that  on way to Madhya Pradesh from  Maharashtra, the Commission observed that such incidents only indicate towards carelessness and inappropriate approach of the local public authorities who do not bother to come forward to see the reality at the ground.
 
Racial slur

Meanwhile, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that a 20-year-old girl hailing from Manipur, was subjected to racial discrimination and brutally attacked by some locals from Faizapur, Gurugram in Haryana merely for passing through the locality on Sunday afternoon. She was eventually saved by some people who also called police, according to reports. But the police officials who reached the spot asked the victim to reach a compromise with the other side. The victim then had to call the North East Support Centre & Helpline (NESCH). The NESCH members reached the spot at 8.30 PM and then only the statement of the victim was recorded for registration of an FIR.
 
The Commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, amount to serious issue of violation of human rights of the victim. “The police instead of initiating the requisite legal process, asked the victim to compromise. Accordingly, a notice has been issued to the chief secretary, Haryana and the commissioner of police, Gurugram, calling for a detailed report in the matter, within four weeks along with status of the investigation being conducted by the police after registration of the FIR and relief/counselling provided by the authorities to the victim. The Commission would also like to know about present health condition of the victim and the status of the medical treatment being provided to her by the district authorities”, it said in a statement on Friday.
 
The Commission further observed that it is disgusting that a woman has been subjected to racial discrimination and physical assault by a family in the NCR. Apparently, the police personnel failed to do justice with the situation and take necessary action. They should have realized the impact of trauma and mental agony, the woman was undergoing due to the tragic incident.
 
According to the media reports, the victim was stopped by an elderly woman, who rudely interrupted her from passing through the road stating that it was a private property. The old woman reportedly abused her in a racial tone and as the altercation started the victim was called “corona”. In the meantime, the other family members also came out and started beating the victim with sticks. The woman, who was also hit on her head, was somehow saved by some local people and the police was called. Reportedly, the victim is presently undergoing medical treatment and her CT scan results are awaited.
 

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