The Plight of Migrant Laborers

There appear much confusion and deliberations about this. Social media is fraught with various opinions justifying their own thought. I have come across intellectuals commenting on the plight of laborers as human trafficking. Also, there are opinions reflecting Government indifference and sloth in tackling the problems faced by them. At the outset, it is clear that the movement of laborers is the outcome of Covid19 virus which virtually has brought all economic activities to a standstill and people are compelled to stay inside their houses. Consequently, it has affected all types of laborers, and casualties are reported herein. Considering the state of affairs can it be said that it is a violation of Article 23 of the Indian Constitution. Article 23 appears in the Directive principle of State policy meaning thereby that State has to take care of it. Now, this provision deals with the Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labor. Here traffic in human beings and the beggar and other similar forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offense punishable in accordance with the law. Clause empowers State in imposing compulsory service for public purposes. Now those arguing that present state of affairs is a violation of Article 23 must contemplate that they are mistaken and failed to appreciate the present scenario in their correct perspective. Like, suppose if a family of laborers on their sweet will start for their native place at Bihar or U.P that movement is the result of their sweet will. On the way, if they face some problem that can not be considered as state negligence. As a citizen, it was their obligation to realize that when they have decided to undertake journey as per their choice, there is likelihood of facing difficulties and problems. Now coming to section 370 of the Indian penal code it is clear that it deals with buying and disposing of any person as a slave which is not applicable in the present scenario. Further section 371 to 374 deals with human trafficking out of which section 371, 372, and 373 don’t appear to be applicable here. Section 374 deals with unlawful compulsory labor and constitutes an offense if a person is compelled to forced labor. But either through media reports or social media, no such instance has been reflected. On one occasion it could be heard that at Karnataka perhaps such an attempt was made in real estate business but it could not be substantiated. So the ultimate reality is that due to the Covid19 outbreak laborers suffered and are suffering. So it is our social responsibility to help them wherever they are found and encourage them to undertake works as per their choice. We must not indulge in such activities which will make laborers think otherwise. Discussions in social media sometimes reflect the vested interest of political parties which must be condemned and no attempt should be made to highlight them.

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