An angry mob of migrant workers Wednesday ransacked their site manager’s office at IIT-Hyderabad and pelted stones at a police party, demanding pending wages and permission to travel back home.
A sub-inspector of police sustained injuries and a police vehicle was damaged as tension mounted at the campus, located in Kandi of Sangareddy district on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
The outburst of workers, officials say, was waiting to happen. As many as 2,354 workers are employed in construction works on the campus by a private contractor. Since the announcement of the nationwide lockdown, work has been stalled. They workers have been restricted to their camp adjoining the IIT campus, and being provided ‘bland food’. They were also frustrated by the non-availability of alcohol, gutka, meat, etc., said the police.
“The main issue is that they were not paid their wages for the last several months. Some of them had wages pending since May, December, and February, etc. When the contractor wanted to resume and expedite the work during the lockdown citing government orders, the workers assumed they would also be paid wages for the lockdown period, when they have not done any work,” said a police officer.
On Wednesday morning, around 100 workers went up to the site manager and started a protest demanding pending wages. This led to an argument, which turned violent. The Sangareddy rural
police station was alerted and policemen led by a sub-inspector reached the spot. According to the police, the workers started pelting stones at them without any provocation on part of the personnel.
Following the intervention of senior officers, a delegation of migrant workers and representatives of the contractor was taken to the Sangareddy district collector’s office for a meeting. “The collector has asked the contractor to disperse the pending wages immediately but they have sought a day. The construction works will resume after the payment of wages. The workers will be provided more ration and also
vegetables. The matter has been resolved,” DSP P Sridhar Reddy told indianexpress.com.
Worried about their families back home, the workers have been demanding they be allowed to return to their villages and towns. Wednesday’s incidents were a result of their anxiety and worries, said the police.
The lockdown in Telangana was extended to May 7 and construction activities given a go-ahead by the state government. A case has been registered against the workers in Sangareddy rural police station on
charges of damaging public property.
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