Congress is behind attacks on workers: Gujarat Minister

Says around 20 party leaders have been identified

Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home Pradipsinh Jadeja has said around 20 Congress leaders, along with some social workers, have been identified for instigating violent attacks on migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in the State.

He accused the Opposition party of orchestrating violence to defame the BJP government ahead of the Assembly elections.

The police have arrested 533 people, based on 61 cases, for over 75 incidents of attacks on Hindi-speaking workers following the rape last week of an infant, allegedly by a migrant worker from Bihar, in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat.

“The police have identified 20 Congress leaders and a few other social workers who have been involved in inciting and orchestrating violent attacks,” Mr. Jadeja told journalists, adding, “Nobody will be spared by the police.”

“This is an attempt to disturb peaceful environment in Gujarat and hamper its industrial production,” Mr. Jadeja said. The attacks have triggered an exodus of over 20,000 migrant workers, who form a significant chunk of the labour force in factories in Gujarat.

Mr. Jadeja, however, refused to name any specific Congress leader involved in the violence.

Alpesh denies charges

Meanwhile, Congress legislator Alpesh Thakor, who is at the centre of controversy, said he would never allow violence against any community and said there was a conspiracy to “blame him and his community for violent attacks.”

“This is a conspiracy to drag my name and blame my community for violence. This is the BJP’s low political game to finish my political career,” Mr. Thakor said.

The Ahmedabad crime branch on Tuesday arrested one Rahul Thakor, social media convener of Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena, a social caste group headed by Mr. Alpesh Thakor, for spreading hate messages on social media.

Extra police deployed

Following the attacks, authorities have deployed extra police in industrial estates and localities where migrant workers live.

At a meeting in Gandhinagar, Chief Secretary Dr. J.N. Singh has directed all district collectors and police officials to meet the migrant workers, assure them safety and also book those who are trying to create tensions between migrants and locals.

“In a video conference with district officials, we have issued several measures with regard to recent attacks on migrants and how to control the situation. Fortunately, no incident of violence has been reported in the last 48 hours,” Dr. Singh told The Hindu.

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