Ahmedabad: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani on Monday urged people not to indulge in violence, which has spread fear among migrant workers in the state.

The appeal follows an exodus of migrant workers, especially from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, amid acts violence against them over the rape of a 14-month-old girl on 28 September allegedly by a migrant worker.

As many as 20,000 migrant workers have fled the state, according to Mahesh Singh Kushwah, president of the Uttar Bharatiya Vikas Parishad, a group claiming to represent the interests of north Indians.

Rupani said the situation was under control and that no incident had taken place in the state in the last 48 hours.

Police have registered 56 cases across six districts and 431 people have been arrested so far, Gujarat home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja said on Monday at a press conference in Gandhinagar. He said that 17 companies of the state reserve police have been deployed in affected areas.

Due to efforts of Gujarat Police, the situation is under control and no untoward incident has been reported in last 48 hrs- Vijay Rupani, Gujarat CM

Earlier in the day, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar spoke to Rupani and urged him to arrest those who have been targeting migrant workers. Kumar condemned the rape and said the guilty must be punished but the entire community should not be tarred with the same brush.

The accused, Ravindra Sahu, was arrested on the day of the incident itself. However, the incident sparked outrage in some sections of the society with mobs attacking migrant workers in various parts of the state. Hate messages were circulated on social media, which also led to attacks on migrants. Some of these messages claimed that migrant workers were taking away job opportunities meant for locals.

The districts most affected by the violence are Mehsana and Sabarkantha, while fear has also gripped other parts of the state, including Ahmedabad, Baroda and Surat.

The violence has also affected various industries, including textiles, real estate and construction. It has particularly affected the business-dominated south Gujarat region, which has a heavy presence of migrants.

The city of Surat, which has a population of 5.5 million, is estimated to have a floating population of 200,000-300,000 and the largest proportion of migrants (58%) among all cities in India.

“In all, there are 15-16 lakh migrant workers in Surat district. The textile industry of Surat is already facing a recession. It employs about 8-10 lakh people, of which half are migrants. They fear danger to their lives and properties," said Tarachand Kasat, president of All India Textile Traders’ Association.

The industry turnover of about 1,000 crore per day from readymade items could be severely impacted if the situation is not brought under control immediately, he said.

It has been alleged that members of the Gujarat Kshatriya Thakor Sena (GKTS) were behind the attacks on migrants. However, Congress member of legislative assembly (MLA) Alpesh Thakor, who heads GKTS, said on Sunday that the youth of the organization were being framed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

There is a conspiracy to finish off GKTS and more than two dozen first information reports (FIRs) have been registered with the aim of framing GKTS youth, Thakor said. He added that he will sit on a fast from 11 October until false cases registered against GKTS members are withdrawn.

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