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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Punjab: Migrant workers say won’t go back even if restrictions return

A senior minister in the government said that this time they will assure that labourers do not return for want of ration.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: March 25, 2021 10:46:24 am
Nandu Mistri (40) had left for his village during lockdown along with wife Banita Devi (30) and then his 26-day old twin sons and a daughter in the first Shramik train from Jalandhar. Nandu is back, but Banita and the children are still in their native village.

As the country marked one year of the day – March 24 – when it went into a hard lockdown with just over 500 positive cases, several migrant workers who lost their jobs and later left in Shramik trains to their native places from Punjab are now back in the state even amid an unfolding second wave.

Vijendera (27) from Madhya Pradesh, who along with his wife and three small children had left for his native place, which was over 1200 km from Jalandhar, on a bicycle last year, is now back in the city. His wife Basmati Devi and children — Nandini (6), Muskan (3) and Sanjna (one) – are back too. While he is working as a labourer at a construction site, his wife has found work in potato fields.

“We came back to Jalandhar in December last year because there was no work in the village,” said Vijendera, adding that if this time lockdown is imposed he would prefer to stay back.

“There was no clarity about anything that time as I was penniless, and my family in MP had sent me Rs 5,000 to purchase ration as no one had given us anything and everyone was very scared,” he said, adding that he has come here again to ensure good education for his children.

Nandu Mistri (40) is also back from Chak village of district Palamu in Jharkhand.

Nandu had left for his village during lockdown along with wife Banita Devi (30) and then his 26-day old twin sons and a daughter in the first Shramik train from Jalandhar. Nandu is back, but Banita and the couple’s children are still in their native village.

“I am a carpenter and got my work back here and now I am planning to bring my family back in 2-3 months,” he said. About the apprehensions of lockdown during the second wave of pandemic, he said that he is much more confident this time that he will get work even if the lockdown is imposed.

“Carpenters like me are working in individual households and people get their works done even in lockdown,” he said.

“In the first wave everyone was in panic and now they understand that by adopting precautions the things can be done,” said Nandu.

Speaking over phone, Banita said that she too wants to return as soon as possible because there is no work in the village for her. She used to work as a labourer here.

Santosh (27), who was working in Amritsar as a construction worker earlier, has also returned.

“We did not get any work in the village so there was no option but to return back and here we got our work back,” he added.

Mohammad Sahu, in his 30s, a factory labourer and a resident of Chakla village in Kishanganj district of Bihar, has also returned to Hoshiarpur along with several other labourers. Sahu is working in Savitri Plywood factory in Hoshiarpur district. He said that if this time lockdown is imposed then his owner had assured work for some days to everyone during the month.

Also a large number of labourers, especially industry labour, too have returned and have decided to stay back this time even if lockdown is imposed.

A senior minister in the government said that this time they will assure that labourers do not return for want of ration.

“We should be sensitive towards each other if any lockdown is imposed as they are our brothers and their basic needs must be seen by the respective factory owners if the situation of lockdown comes,” said the minister.

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