Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, here on Sunday, said the protest by migrant labourers in the Kottayam district shouldn't have happened and those behind it would "be brought to book".
"It, now appears, was a purported act by vested interests, out to create trouble. It would be dealt with strongly. Kerala considers migrant labourers as 'guests'. We have taken all steps. There are over 5,000 camps housing over 1.70 lakh of them.
"When they said they wanted to cook their own food, we supplied them provisions. Despite all this, it happened at Payipadu. We will bring to book, those behind this," said Vijayan.
At this moment, he said they couldn't return to their homes. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked all to stay where they were, he added.
In morning, over a thousand migrant labourers from various states gathered at Payipadu near Changnacherry in the Kottayam district in violation of the lockdown and demanded that they be sent back home.
They also staged a protest, only to be chased away by the police.
Local legislator C.F. Thomas said though there were no complaints about food or accommodation. But the migrants wanted to return home, he added.
"Payipadu has been a central place for migrant workers for long. Every day, they converge there and then move to their respective work locations. A series of meetings have taken place in the past few days. Almost 50 per cent of workers have returned. But the rest who had made arrangements to travel back to their homes were unable to do so due to the nationwide lockdown and cancellation of all trains," said Thomas.
Kottayam District Collector Sudhir Babu said till the other day the migrants had raised no issue. "Till Saturday, they never ever raised any issue. The demand that they wanted to go home surfaced only on Sunday. The issue will have to be discussed in view of the lockdown," said Babu.
However, Payipadu village council member Sibi said the migrants were facing trouble over availability of food and accommodation. "I am seized of the issue. These labourers are finding it tough arranging food and accommodation. They are brought to Kerala by agents and put up after charging money. The agents have washed their hands off the matter. That's the real issue," said Siby.
State BJP chief K. Surendran said, "They are restless because they are not getting food and accommodation. Hence, they want to go home."