Police in India took strong measures against migrant workers attempting to defy the country’s ongoing lockdown order. Reuters reported that authorities used tear gas on a crowd of workers that had been out of their homes and throwing stones in a clash with police.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-week lockdown order in response to the coronavirus pandemic has left hundreds of thousands of the country’s poor without work.

The jobless workers have been attempting to return from major cities like Delhi and Mumbai to their homes in the country. With buses and other forms of transit shut down to help stem the spread of COVID-19, many have been walking home on major highways, in defiance of orders from police.

The conflict arose Sunday in the city of Surat as roughly 500 workers, mostly from a nearby textile plant, protested police orders and demanded to be allowed to continue home. The tear gas forced them indoors and police on Monday detained 93 people.

“The police tried to convince them that it is not possible since buses or trains are not available ... However, the workers refused to budge, and started pelting stones at police,” Vidhi Chaudhari, Deputy Police Commissioner for Surat, said in a statement.

According to Johns Hopkins University, India currently has 1,071 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and has reported 29 deaths, so far. Modi said in his announcement that a 21-day lockdown was necessary in order to prevent the country from falling behind 21 years.

India has also imposed a nationwide lockdown to battle the coronavirus
India has also imposed a nationwide lockdown to battle the coronavirus AFP / Sanjay KANOJIA