Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday interacted with a group of migrant labourers near the Sukhdev Vihar flyover in New Delhi and asked them about their problems as they walked home amid the Coronavirus-induced lockdown. Later, the party alleged that the police had taken migrant workers, who interacted with Rahul Gandhi into preventive custody, saying they had direction from the "top to do so."
Countering Congress' claim, the Delhi Police said that it was Rahul Gandhi's associates who took the workers away. DCP South-East District R P Meena said Rahul Gandhi and some Congressmen interacted with the 15 labourers, including four women and a child. "After spending about 15-20 minutes, he left the place," he said.
Meena said the others accompanying the Congress leader were asked by SHO New Friends Colony to follow social distancing norms and later they took the migrant workers with them.
Asked at a Congress media briefing about Rahul's meeting and the police allegedly detaining the workers, Congress spokesperson Gaurav Vallabh said eight crore migrants were interested in returning to their homes and Gandhi was only trying to meet them and hear their grievances.
"They cannot even meet Rahul Gandhi. What is the reason for their detention? They should not even tell Rahul Gandhi that the government has done nothing for them so far," he told reporters.
According to a Delhi Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi was passing from Sukhdev Vihar when he spotted the migrant workers stopped by the police. He intervened and talked to the migrant workers and assured them help. Later, several Congress workers led by Delhi Congress chief Anil Chaudhary reached there and arranged help for the migrant workers.
Chaudhary said that the migrants, including women, children and elderly, were walking from Haryana to their native place in Jhansi when they were stopped by the police near Modi Mill flyover. He said that Delhi Congress arranged 8-10 vehicles to carry the migrant workers following the social distancing norms.
Earlier on Saturday, Rahul Gandhi requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider the special financial package announced by the Centre as the country continues its fight against coronavirus. The third phase of the nationwide lockdown enforced to contain the spread of COVID-19 will end on Sunday.
(With agency inputs)