Two policemen were injured in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday when irate migrant workers demanding that they be sent back home hurled stones at them.
The incident took place at the migrant worker campsite at at Oruvathil Kotta, just a kilometre from the banks of Akkulam lake, where the construction of Lulu Mall is on.
A five-member police party led by Pettah Station House Officer D Girilal rushed to the campsite after the Police Station received information that the workers were getting unruly.
“Already there were clear instructions that force should not be used. It was a small team that went so that the workers will not be provoked. The Station House Officer was trying to calm the crowd of about 700-odd migrant workers when sharp stones were hurled from the back of the crowd. It was hard to see who was throwing the stones, and it was raining heavily.
One of the projectiles hit the officer, opening a deep gash on his forehead. He was immediately rushed to the Medical College. The driver, a home guard named Deepu, also sustained some minor injures,” a police source said.
When the agitating labour force showed no signs of calming down, a larger contingent led by the Shanghumughom Assistant Commissioner of Police arrived at the scene. The ACP had to assure the workers that steps would be taken to transport them back to her homes for them to finally turn peaceful.
It is said the migrant workers had been demanding that they, too, should be allowed to board the special Shramik trains that left from Thiruvananthapuram. Many had complained to the ACP that while migrant workers in other districts were allowed to board trains, they were not.
It was also said that some in the group had urgent reasons to go back; one, for instance, had lost his father and another had a seriously ill child back home.
“Their campsite had food and other basic facilities but still they wanted to go home. Perhaps, they might have thought there would be no job for months together,” a top police source said. “However, at the moment, we are not sure whether they were fed any rumours,” the source added.
City Police Commissioner Balramkumar Upadhyay would call a meeting of labour contractors in charge of these labourers on May 11, Monday. If there are genuine grievances we would take steps to transport them to their home states. Or if he panic was set off by some rumours, we will do our best to reassure these workers,” the top source said.