Under the scanner for allegedly inciting mob violence against migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in Gujarat, Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor mounted a defence by saying that workers were not fleeing the state but returning home for Chhath Puja.
Thakor has been in the eye of the storm after allegations that he fanned violence against migrant workers who have been leaving the state in thousands. On his part, Thakor refuted the allegations. "The truth is that people from Bihar have already applied for leave for Chhath Puja. This is the only reason they are moving to their state," said Thakor who had previously said on a public platform that jobs for Gujaratis in Gujarat are scarce and that locals should be given priority in employment opportunities.
What also inflamed the entire situation is the arrest of a migrant worker accused of raping a 14-month-toddler. Following the arrest, the Kshatriya Thakor Sena said migrant workers from other states should not be given jobs in Gujarat. A 200-strong mob, allegedly led by Thakor Sena members, stormed a factory near Vadnagar town of Mehsana district on October 2 and thrashed employees. Similar incidents took place in Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Sabarkantha, Patan and Ahmedabad districts in the last one week, said Director General of Police Shivanand Jha.
While Thakor is now being widely slammed for his comments, he has said that he condemns any and all acts of violence and that people should maintain calm. “This is unfortunate, we have never advocated violence and only talked peace. All Indians are safe in Gujarat,” said the legislator from Radhanpur.
Meanwhile, Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani has said that the law and order situation across the state is under control and that 431 people have been arrested in connection with attacking and/or threatening migrants. "Due to intense efforts by police, the situation is under control and no untoward incident has happened in the last 48 hours," he said in Rajkot. "We are committed to maintaining law and order, and people can call police in case of trouble. We will provide them security."
It is reported that the presence of security personnel has been increased in industrial areas where migrant workers are in large numbers.