Several mainstream news publications have quoted a so-called official statement of the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government in which the UP government has accused its counterpart in Delhi of playing “cheap politics at a time of crisis and playing with the lives of people of this country”.
Investigation by Swarajya reveals that no such statement of the UP administration exists.
While the contents of the so-called statement may or may not be true, the statement itself does not exist.
To provide a quick summary of events, here is what has happened between last night and today.
A thousand buses have been put in service by the UP government to take people stranded at UP’s western borders to their respective destinations. The buses belong to the UP State Road Transport Corporation.
The last 48 hours have seen large-scale exodus of migrant poor from New Delhi. Almost all of these were headed for destinations in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, or Madhya Pradesh.
Transportation officials, drivers and conductors were called by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from home at night to initiate operations.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath reportedly stayed up till late, overseeing the efforts.
UP DGP and Lucknow Police Commissioner were themselves present at Lucknow’s Charbagh railway station, which was acting as a depot, ensuring that people were being sent to their respective destinations.
UP DGP told ANI, “I talked to the people and urged them to leave for their places quickly. We urged them not to gather at the spot. We are trying to streamline the process so that minimum time is taken for medical checkups and other precautions needed when they reach their area.”
At the root of this exodus from New Delhi lies a rumour that buses were stationed at the New Delhi-UP border to take people to their destinations.
According to this Amar Ujala report, people crossing the Delhi border said that their water and electricity supplies had been cut and they did not get food or milk during the lockdown. Owing to this, the hungry had to get out on the roads.
The Amar Ujala report quotes people coming from Delhi as saying that officials of the Delhi government were announcing that there are buses standing at the Delhi border which would take them to their destinations in UP and Bihar.
People said that they were ferried in Delhi Transport Corporation Buses and dropped at the border.
While statements reported by Amar Ujala are yet to be independently verified by Swarajya, what is evident from visuals is that thousands of people have lined up at the Delhi border as you read this.
Here is where a so-called statement reported in The Indian Express looks fishy.
Read this excerpt from an Express report titled ‘UP govt accuses Delhi of ‘playing with lives’ of migrants labourers’
The Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday accused the Delhi government of indulging in “cheap politics at a time of crisis and playing with the lives of people of this country”. In a statement issued by the UP government, it said that the Delhi government disconnected water and electricity connections of people. “During lockdown, people were not even provided food and milk in Delhi,” said the statement. The UP government has alleged that DTC buses dropped off people at the Delhi border in the name of help.“Announcements were made in Delhi and rumours were spread that there are buses at UP border waiting to drop people to their destinations,” said the statement.
While everything said in the statement may well be true, including the malafide intentions of the Delhi government, attributing it to UP government is fake news.
While a quick search of the statement on the internet leads to no primary source, Shalabh Mani Tripathi, media advisor to the CM Yogi Adityanath, told Swarajya that no such statement has been issued by the UP government.
“No such press release has been issued. No such verbal statement has been made officially. The claims made in the so-called statement are statements of people stranded at the border,” Tripathi said.
In the days to come, this issue will likely grow. It is even possible that the Delhi government responds with a statement of its own.