Mass exodus from Gujarat, Assamese stranded

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A violent backlash in Gujarat against workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar following the arrest of a Bihar man, for allegedly raping a 14-month-old girl in the Sabarkantha district last week, has sparked an exodus of ‘migrant’ labourers in the state, media reported on Sunday.

According to reports, protests erupted in the districts of Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Patan, Sabarkantha and Mehsana after the arrest of Ravindra Sahu, who was held for allegedly raping a minor in the state.

The  condition of Assamese workforce are not yet known. Although they are not prime target but most of them are lying low. Hundreds of Assamese workers from darrang are in Surat’s diamond industry.

The Gujarat police on Saturday said that at least 180 people have been arrested across five districts for targeting migrants, particularly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, in violent protests across the state.

Gujarat DGP Shivanand Jha while addressing the media said, “Following the case of rape, people from a particular community have targeted non-Gujaratis. The police is patrolling the streets of Sabarkantha, 116 km from Ahmadabad.”

A local from the state told the media, “Around 1,200 to 1,400 migrants from MP live in this area. Over the last few days, some 150 of them have returned to MP. Though police have been patrolling in the area, some miscreants came on Saturday night and threatened us to leave.”

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has written to the Gujarat High Court Chief Justice to set up fast track courts for rape cases of minors. Rupani has specifically mentioned Himmatnagar and two other cases from Surat, where two five-year-old girls were raped.

Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor has rubbished allegations that held him responsible for creating tensions and fanning enmity between Gujaratis and non-Gujaratis after the rape of a 14-month-old girl in Sabarkantha district.

In the last couple of days, attacks on non-Gujarati speaking people have been reported from many parts of the state.

More than 2,500 police personnel have been deployed in Ahmadabad alone and the government has been repeatedly assuring people that the situation will be under control soon.

However, this has failed to convince people as attacks continue on non-Gujarati speaking people at many places.

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