By- Nitya V and Tarangini Sriraman: Baees/22 March (the day of the 14 hour ‘voluntary’ lockdown) and Chaubees/24 March (the beginning of the longer nation-wide lockdown) were permanently imprinted in the minds of migrant workers as the hard date after which they could be certain of nothing. A month into the lockdown, migrant workers were creating trails of paper, video, whatsapp threads and other artifacts, not merely to index their distress and lay claim to what was promised, but also to set up complex and paradoxical visual narratives of violence and gratitude. In this article that straddles the journalistic and the academic, we explore how the CoVID 19 lockdown in India cast migrants within emotional, auditory and documentary regimes of making and producing proof. We show how migrant workers ended up archiving much more than was required by these regimes under the shadow of a neo-liberal state and became witnesses to unfolding violent truths. Alongside this, we also argue that government agencies, NGOs and social activists often differed in how they solicited and processed ‘proof.’
The article linked below was co-authored by Nitya and Tarangini.