Four days after 65 migrant labourers leaving for their villages in Uttar Pradesh were stopped and put up in a shelter at Dhangar village in Haryana’s Fatehabad district, the villagers have arranged for a yoga trainer for the labourers and the administration has provided them with an LCD television.
Taking no chances, the administration has deployed eight policemen to prevent the migrants from fleeing the shelter.
Shelter incharge Bhagwat Dyal told The Indian Express that a yoga trainer from the village started conducting sessions at the shelter on Thursday. “The administration may depute a yoga expert from Friday. The LCD was installed Wednesday,” says Dyal. The temporary shelter has been set up in the village’s government school.
Migrant worker Tofiq Khan (21) said, “Most of the time we are busy on our phones. We watch television after the Internet data is exhausted.”
Initially, the migrant workers were unhappy with the facilities offered in the shelter, but now they are satisfied. “The employees and village sarpanch keep asking us if we are facing any inconvenience. We have been put up in school rooms which have fans. The village sarpanch has also given us an anti-mosquito solution,” said Babbu Singh. He is among 13 labourers hailing from Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh. They assembled water coolers in Punjab’s Bathinda town and made Rs 200 to Rs 300 daily. They started walking after receiving information about buses leaving from Delhi for their native places. Fearing such movement may lead to the spread of COVID-19, the authorities sealed the borders of districts and states.
When the Fatehabad administration stopped this group of 65 workers, they urged the authorities to let them proceed, but the authorities eventually convinced them. “Senior police officers, including SP Rajesh Kumar, have made it clear to them that they won’t be allowed to move during the lockdown,” said Dyal, also the village panchayat secretary.
Bijender Singh, hailing from Kosikalan village in UP’s Mathura district, said health officials had visited the shelter to examine them.
“We have appointed nodal officers to provide food to the workers and conduct their medical examination,” says Fatehabad DC Ravi Prakash Gupta.
The migrant workers, however, are insisting that they be allowed to leave for their villages. “Our families are telling us to return, even if we have to pay double the fare,” a labourer said.
“We may be allowed to leave after the medical examination. If buses are not arranged, we may go by foot,” said Babbu.
Tofiq Khan, who is from Gulavati in Bulandshahar, thinks they will be allowed to go “only after April 14”.