Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately provide relief to thousands of migrant workers left stranded on the streets due to nationwide lockdown.
Gandhi, in a letter to PM Modi, said, "I must urge you to seriously consider the potentially devastating impact a nationwide lockdown would have on our people, our society and our economy."
"It is critical for us to understand that India's conditions are unique. We may be required to take different steps than other large countries who are following a total lockdown strategy. The number of poor people in India who are dependent on a daily income is simply too large for us to unilaterally shut down all economic activity. The consequences of a complete economic shut down will disastrously amplify the death toll arising from the Covid-19 virus," he added, while stressing that millions of Congress party workers stand in full solidarity with the government in this hour of challenge.
"The sudden lockdown has created immense panic and confusion, he said, adding factories, small industries and construction sites have closed, and tens of thousands of migrant labourers are undertaking an arduous journey to reach their home states," he said. Labourers have been rendered vulnerable without their daily wages or access to nutrition and basic services, he added.
It is important that we help such sections find shelter and provide them with money directly into their bank accounts to help them tide over the next few months, he said.
The Congress leader added that a complete lockdown will almost certainly lead to millions of unemployed youths rushing to their villages, thus increasing the risk of infecting their parents and the elderly population living in villages.
"This will result in a catastrophic loss of life," he noted.
Rahul Gandhi called for a nuanced approach that considers the complex realities of our people.
"Our priority must be to protect and isolate the elderly and vulnerable from the virus, and to clearly and strongly communicate to the young the dangers of proximity to older people, he said.
With fresh deaths in six states, the death toll from Covid-19 climbed to 25 in the country and the total number of cases to 979 on Sunday, according to the Union Health Ministry.
(With inputs from PTI)