The Centre can rightly pat its back on the issue of disengagement with China in Eastern Ladakh without firing a bullet after the initial clashes in May last year. It stood ground for full nine months before the disengagement could start. Hopefully, the stand-off on Delhi borders doesn’t take that long.
In Eastern Ladakh, the sparse local population was not affected by the stand-off. Strategic dominance was the core of the issue, which didn’t affect the lives of millions, like in Delhi.The government could afford the kind of time it had to resolve the border issue in Ladakh, but such a strategy in case of the Delhi borders has caused much harassment to the masses. Lakhs of people cross the borders from Haryana and UP to enter Delhi and vice-versa, for their livelihood.
Crossing these borders has become much more frustrating than it would in Wagah. The posse of policemen in riot gear ensures that vehicles move at a snail’s pace and everyone is forced to add 30 minutes to an hour to their travel time just in case if they have to cross these borders.To moot question is, who is accountable for this harassment caused to this daily migrant population. Since they are not voters in Delhi, they are not Kejriwal’s responsibility. He had even barred them from treatment in Delhi’s govt hospitals.
Little does he realise that all the tax that these places of work pay goes to the Delhi government’s coffers. The tax on purchases in Delhi which they make also goes to the government’s reserves. But still, Kejriwal prefers setting up a tent city in Burari, because he is looking for votes in Punjab, holds a lunch for kisans and attends a rally in Meerut as he eyes UP Assembly polls.
The Centre, too, is not less to be blamed for this misery. The ball is in its court to resolve the crisis and its inability to do so is not winning it any admirers, but losing many at a fast pace. To add to the problem of vehicular logjams is the increased fuel prices.
On the average, given the traffic jam and increased prices, fuel budgets of individuals have gone up by half. The surge is sufficient to burn holes in the pockets of those who are trying to overcome the steep odds caused by the pandemic.
The governments of UP and Haryana have also been indifferent to this large daily migrant population. They have so far failed to create diversions and bypasses for smooth traffic and the spillover from border jams is such that even within the states, movement is very difficult.
To visit Hissar from Delhi, a person needs to go southwards and cross borders at Gurugram, reach Farooq Nagar to access the highway and then move northwards to Hissar, adding to wastage of time and fuel. This is not one single individual and a single day story but the story of millions for the past 90 days.But then, daily migrants are no one’s ‘burden’. Nobody owns them. Their misery during the pandemic told us this and the stand-off on Delhi’s borders continues to tell the same tale.
Author and president, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice