MUMBAI: NCP president Sharad Pawar on Wednesday termed as unfortunate the gathering of migrant workers outside the Bandra railway station and stressed such incidents should not recur in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
He said people gathered outside the suburban station on Tuesday afternoon after somebody circulated the rumour that trains services will resume, and called for taking precaution to ensure such confusing messages are checked.
The former Union minister also urged political parties to desist from scoring points over each other during the ongoing health crisis and asked them to defeat COVID-19 collectively.
Unfortunate incident took place outside the Bandra railway station yesterday.
"Somebody circulated rumour that the train services will resume and that you (the migrant workers) have the chance to travel out of the state and thousands of people turned up there.
Unfortunately, instructions regarding social distancing were not observed there, Pawar said during his address via Facebook.
The veteran leader cautioned against circulating such confusing messages.
Precaution has to be taken to see what happened yesterday does not recur, he added.
Pawar said political parties should not think about who is in power at the Centre or in the state.
"The only one-point agenda before us is to defeat the coronavirus.
We should take steps in that direction.
"And what happened in Bandra should not be repeated anywhere, added Pawar, whose party is a key constituent in the Shiv Sena-led government in the state.
Ignoring lockdown norms, over 1,000 migrant workers who earn daily wages gathered here on Tuesday demanding transport arrangements to go back to their native places, hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the coronavirus-enforced curbs till May 3.
Asked by a Facebook follower whether transport services can be allowed for a day or two to ferry students and migrant workers, who are stuck, to their native villages, Pawar replied in the negative.
He said the issue was discussed at the level of Prime Minister Narendra Modi too, but health experts suggested against it.
Experts from the medical field feel that the number of (COVID-19) patients may peak during this period.
Hence, allowing such travels now seems unlikely, he said.
Pawar further said efforts are on at various levels to provide two-time meals to migrant workers.
He also welcomed Modis announcement of extending the nationwide lockdown till May 3 given the seriousness of the situation and urged people to support it.
The NCP chief further expressed concern over the rising number of COVID-19 patients in the country and called for taking care of the elderly, who are vulnerable to contracting the disease.
Noting that 377 COVID-19 patients have died in the country so far, Pawar said an analysis of the cases suggests individuals with comorbidity (already having some other illnesses) are falling prey to the disease.
I am not comparing the situation in India with that in the US, Spain, Italy (who have recorded high fatalities).
"The situation there is terrible. But experts say that Indians have a specialty physically that they have more immunity to fight such situation but the situation (in India too) is worrying, he added.
To a question from another Facebook follower, Pawar said Maharashtra does not have adequate number of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits available with it, but added the Centre is supplying more of the safety gear.
The situation is better now compared to that a week ago, he added.
He also praised the followers of Dr B R Ambedkar for observing the Dalit icon's birth anniversary on Tuesday while staying inside their homes in view of the lockdown.
The NCP chief suggested the central and state governments take steps to tackle the problems of water shortage during May and possible rise in unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis.