Over 60 days ago, Seemanth Kumar Singh, currently posted as IGP, Administration, was made the nodal officer, in charge of migrant workers from Jharkhand and Bihar in Karnataka. But the officer went beyond his duty ensuring that over 60,000 food kits are distributed, thousands of workers are provided shelter and even transport back to their home states. So much so, that Seemanth Kumar became a one-point contact person for distraught migrants even from other states.
Republic spoke to the officer who credited his entire department for the stellar work in identifying problem areas and providing solutions accordingly. We caught up with him, even as he was planning the smooth departure of several batches of migrant workers on trains lined up.
"Some workers who were in distress called me, I helped them. And they shared my number with their friends and eventually it was shared with the press in Bihar and Jharkhand. It was even published in newspapers as a contact person for migrant workers from those states to reach out to," he said.
"I used to get over 300-400 calls but thankfully all my officers too sprung into action and we ensured that 60,000 food kits were distributed using the network of city police", he added.
As of now, 60,000 workers from Jharkhand and over one lakh from Bihar have been registered. Just yesterday the 100th train left and now close to 1.5 lakh migrants have reached their respective states. Trains have been lined up to send over one lakh more migrants over the next few days.
"Last two months, we have been providing ration to them and since trains began two weeks ago, there has been a mad rush to go home. They would say,’ you have provided us with food and shelter so please ensure we reach home as well. I had to convince them that it won't happen in one go. Some would listen, some would get desperate and insist we send them that very day. We are doing the medical screening, giving them tickets and even providing them with food for their journey back", Singh said adding that, 'there was a bonding between them and us which is why we avoided a violent situation in Bengaluru.'
"Since my number became viral, I started getting calls from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat from people who are stranded and they thought this was a helpline number. We used to just take their demands and we coordinated the data and provided ration. The data and numbers also helps us in policing going forward," he explained.
"We have two sets of officers here, we look after outgoing and incoming people. We have a set of SOPs(Standard Operating Procedures) and only after we give them NoCs(No Objection Certificates) can they enter. There is a system of home quarantine and institutional quarantine as well. Outgoing flow is more and incoming is more in bordering districts. The numbers coming in flights will be less than what we have seen so far. We have already ensured that no railway station gets crowded so far so we can handle this too", he stated.
"I am from Bihar and settled in Jharkhand so that was a huge advantage for me in handling the migrants. I got a call from Jharkhand chief minister who thanked me. He asked if there is any other issue and I assured him it is all being sorted at the government level. And he also said, next time you are here, you should have a cup of tea with me," Singh concluded.