Last evening, migrant workers in Surat and Mumbai gathered, demanding that they should be allowed to go back home.

What followed was chaos and eventually, police intervention was sought to make things go back to normal.

The issue blew up obviously, posing a lot of questions. And the answer to most, being: We are doing our best, we are providing them with food.

Well guess what, that is not enough.

Even if we assume that the government is providing shelter and meals to every person in need, there still remains a lot to be done.

To start with: Clear communication between the authorities and migrant workers.

One of the primary reasons why people gathered at the two places, was because the Indian railways was allowing everyone to book tickets April 15 onwards.

This was an indication that the lockdown will end on that date.

But on Tuesday (April 14), the PM announced that the lockdown will be extended till May 3 and the bookings had to be stopped.

This is where it got tricky. No one communicated this to the migrant workers. While the real reason for the gathering is still unknown, there are reports that some of them had tickets and wanted to arrive early – whereas others assumed they will be able to buy the tickets at the station.

Now whatever might be the basis of this confusion: Sale of tickets, incorrect media reportage, false word of mouth – migrant workers poured in large numbers because there was no one who could tell them better. 

And that is an administrative problem.

Most of these people don’t have the access to correct sources of information.

A lot of them don’t have phones.

And even if if they have phones and the access, chances are high that they don’t fully understand the impact of the new rules that have been imposed by the government.

None of that is their fault. Strictly, none.

After 21 days of lockdown and witnessing the same thing in Delhi, why do we still not have government representatives communicating with, and reassuring migrant workers? 

One has to realise that if they were prepared to leave on a particular date, even with all the transparency it was going to be difficult.

So without it, what happened should not come as a surprise.

These people are aching to go back home. Among other things, it is because they don’t feel welcomed in big cities.

And there is absolutely no reason why they should.

The economic inequality manifests itself in the form of a cultural barrier between communities, and that daily wage workers are mistreated would be an understatement.

In fact, no one really cared about them until now, when their movement is a threat to all. What are they supposed to do, though?

Stay in the city? For what? What we need is empathy for these people. We need to treat them as equals because truly, they are.

Their lives are just as important as ours while their struggles are much bigger. 

And for those in power, thumping their chests – there is no pride to be taken for doing the bare minimum. It is their duty. 

What is required right now, is going out of the way to help those in need. By proper planning and budget allocation.  

They say no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark. And theirs was. Let’s keep that in mind. Always.