They had gone to work in mustard and gram fields in Rajasthan in the last week of February and were supposed to come back by the first week of April — an annual routine for them for the past many years.
“But this time, we could not come back. We got stuck in Jaisalmer. We were living in our makeshift arrangement and managed with the money earned from labour in fields. We are now relieved to be back in Punjab,” said Vakeel, a resident of Maujgarh village of Abohar constituency, Fazilka.
Raj Singh, was another resident of Fazilka, said, “After coming back to Punjab in the first week of April, we used to work in wheat fields. But this time we got stuck there. We have hardly any savings left from what we earned working in the mustard fields. Now wheat harvesting work is also not an option as we will be quarantined for 14 days. Moreover, most of the harvesting work has already been done in our area.”
A total of 61 buses entered Punjab via Abohar’s Gumjal village Tuesday morning carrying 2,585 farm labourers from different districts of Punjab. Of these, 2,521 were from Malwa districts and the maximum — 1,104 — were from Fazilka.
Only 44 were from Doaba — 29 from Kapurthala and 15 from Jalandhar.
In addition, 40 retired army officers also came via Bathinda from Nasik. Of these 4 were sent to quarantine centres in Bathinda and the rest to other districts where they belonged, said the Bathinda administration.
Arvinderpal Singh Sandhu, Fazilka DC, said, “We screened all of them and have sent them to government quarantine centres. As per home department’s instructions, all will be tested.” However, when asked about those who had already entered Punjab on Sunday and Monday, he said, “They were examined and sent to their homes. They have been home quarantined. Our workers will monitor them.”