top of page

Legal Service Committee

Migrants Assistance Project

On March 24th, 2020 India announced a lockdown in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown triggered a massive crisis for migrant workers strewn across the countries with little resources, as they begun the long walk to move back to the safety of their home states. In 2020 GNLU Centre for Law and Society, in collaboration with Zenith Legal Aid Clinic, Shivpuri (Madhya Pradesh), started working on a project to help stranded migrant workers with their sustenance and safe homecoming. Over the next three weeks, the Centre invited and joined hands with other law schools, NGO’s and a massive community-spirited group of volunteers. What began as an effort by 40 members had grown to a 228-member strong team, which reached out to more than 20,000 migrant workers stranded in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Delhi. At its core, the project ensured the safe homecoming of 4,000 migrants by coordinating with Government authorities to run buses and trains. In this process, the team helped identify more than 2,500 people with acute distress situations – mostly food scarcity issues, and quickly pivoted to focusing on resolving these issues either directly or by seeking the help of NGOs and Government authorities. As the project began a dedicated attempt in resolving distress situations running parallel with its project to coordinate trains and buses, GCLS started a crowdfunding drive to provide direct monetary assistance with food, medicines, and internal travel (i.e. from their location to the bus stop or railway station).

A number of activities were coordinated by the team including coordination of train times, replying to distress queries with respect to non-availability of food, possible eviction due to non-payment of rent, lack of medical care and other similar problems which require immediate assistance, arrangement of buses for travel and more. From calling and informing migrants about trains, preparing status reports and collecting necessary information to addressing distress queries, answering panicky late night or early morning calls and assisting migrants to board buses and trains, volunteers have been engaged every step of the way.

This process has not only been about hard work and dedication but also about sharing the anguish of the migrants for a few brief moments, calming them down and offering them hope. Although the work is emotionally unnerving and distressing; with its own set of losses, the team has braved through it all, by acknowledging every outcome with a sense of indispensable accountability and strength, that they obtain from undertaking this immensely gratifying assignment. In the long run, the Centre plans to undertake field and research activities for the upliftment of urban poor especially migrant workers. The Centre also aims to create a National Consortium led by GNLU to make this initiative a permanent feature, for the upliftment and assistance of vulnerable sections.

Screenshot 2024-01-19 at 11.07.48 PM.png
bottom of page