India's disaster management authority seeks lockdown extension to May 31

Published On: May 17, 2020 07:50 PM NPT By: Reuters

NEW DELHI/AHMEDABAD, May 17: India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) asked the government on Sunday to extend a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus to May 31, as cases exceeded 90,000 and further clashes erupted between police and stranded migrants.

The NDMA, responsible for setting policy on the lockdown, made its request in a letter to India’s interior ministry, which is expected to issue detailed guidelines later on Sunday.

India has now reported more cases than China, where the virus first emerged late last year, although its number of deaths so far, at 2,872, is much lower than China’s 4,600. The death toll in the United States and some European countries is much higher.

India’s current lockdown, introduced on March 25 and extended several times, is due to expire at midnight on Sunday.

The curbs have sparked a crisis for the hundreds of millions of Indians who rely on daily wages to survive.

With no work - and little public transport - many urban migrants attempting to return to their home villages have set out on gruelling journeys on foot or hitched rides in the back of trucks.

In Rajkot in the western state of Gujarat, more than 1,500 migrant workers blocked roads, damaged more than a dozen vehicles and threw stones at police on Sunday, after two special trains that were supposed to take them home got cancelled.

A police official in Shapar told Reuters police baton-charged the migrants to disperse them, with several officers injured in the process.

“The workers had not gathered with the intention of violence. Two or three trains were rescheduled, but the workers misunderstood that the trains had been cancelled, and resorted to violence, said Balram Meena, Rajkot’s Superintendent of Police, told local media.

“We are identifying the people who were involved in the violence,” Meena added.

At least 23 migrants were killed trying to reach their homes on Saturday when a truck crashed in northern India.

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