03/31/2020, 09.59
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Migrants disinfected with chemical solution. Bishop of Bareilly: 'It is inhuman'

by Nirmala Carvalho

The mass exodus from large cities involves millions of poor people. Coronavirus cases reach 1,251. The diocese distributes food parcels to all those who return to the city. Celebrities test positive and "receive excellent treatment".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The video depicting a group of migrants sitting on the ground being sprinkled with disinfectant by the health authorities of Uttar Pradesh has sparked a wave of indignation across India. The bishop of Bareilly, where the episode took place, condemns the attitude of the authorities to AsiaNews. Mgr Ignatius D’Souza protests: " This is inhuman, because these people are poor and marginalized and desperate our migrants labourers and their families. Their dignity cannot be violated in this inhuman and shocking manner."

The episode was filmed on a cellphone and posted on Twitter by a Times of India journalist. The images show the group of people gathered at the entrance of the city and sitting on the ground together with their children. A “chemical solution” is raining down on all of them -  it was later ascertained that it was chlorine mixed with water - while officials urge them to close their eyes and mouth.

Migrants are part of that mass exodus that exploded in recent days after the announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the country was being put on lockdown to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, with positive cases now reaching 1,251. In the absence of jobs in the big cities, millions of poor people are returning to the villages.

Archbishop D’Souza highlights: "These people have nothing, not provided with any means of transportation to return to their place of origin. The Catholic Church of Bareilly has been distributing food packets to those who arrive, our people have been going out" with safety precautions and following government guidelines. They are delivering parcels to displaced people in bus, train and crossroads stations.”

The district magistrate initiated an investigation and explained that the Chief Minister's office asked city police and firefighters to disinfect the arriving buses, "but in their enthusiasm they also sprinkled the disinfectant on the workers." The bishop complains: “Each person has to be treated with Human Dignity, the celebrities who tested positive in India (who travelled to Lucknow), received best treatment, our poor people do not deserve this indignity, it's an affront against the dignity of the human person."

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