For the last one month, Raman Bhabhor has not seen his wife and son. His wife Ramila and four-year-old son Ramesh had gone to their native village Dhanpur in Devgadh Baria taluka of Dahod district in March, to celebrate Holi.
Bhabor who works as share-cropper on the land of one Surubha Jadeja in Ramaliya, has been stranded in the village, which is 40 km east of Rajkot.
“It happened all of a sudden. Since I live on a farm away from the village and don’t have a phone, I didn’t come to know about it for two-three days. When I did come to know about lockdown, I went to Sardhar (a nearby large village on Rajkot-Bhavnagar state highway) to leave for home. But police sent me back, asking me to stay back for a couple of days. However, it has almost been a month now and me and my son Lalo (12) have been stranded here,” says 35-year-old labourer.
As the harvest season was over, Bhabor is left with no work.
“I have got around Rs 35000 as my share from the sale of groundnut and cotton and around three quintals of wheat. So, we will not have to beg for food. But I want to return to my home. I have not heard from my wife for a long time,” says Bhabhor, who has been coming to Saurashtra for the past seven years to work.
Bhabor claims that he has not received any free ration under the Annabahma Yojana, a state government scheme to give ration to migrant labours without ration cards.
Village sarpanch Ravji Makwana says that survey has been conducted to identify people without ration cards in the village. “We have identified around 60 migrant labourers who do not have ration cards with them. However, they are yet to get free ration announced by the government,” said Makwana.
Meanwhile, Shankar Bhabhar, a native of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh, and a few members of his family are fast asleep under shade of an almond tree on the farm of one Prakash Bhuva in the same village.
Their relatives Raju Singad and Dinesh have gone to a neighbouring farm to thrash wheat. “My mother-in-law has been calling us daily and asking us to return home even without harvesting wheat. We too want to leave but we were told that no buses are available,” says Shankar’s wife Guddu.
Shankar and three members his family cultivate a 20 bigha land and will get around Rs 40,000 as their share from sale of cotton and groundnut and around seven quintals wheat. They are yet to harvest one plot of wheat.
But Raju and Dinesh, who are working as daily wagers on farms say days are getting tougher for them. “The Rabi harvest season is almost over. We are getting work hardly two-days a week,” says Raju.
Ramaliya has a population of around 1400 and some of them have settled in Surat.
After the imposition of lockdown, Ramaliya is a mix of migrants from Dahod, Madhya Pradesh who got stuck here, and natives who came back from Surat.
Pravin Kodala (43) and his cousin Shailesh (41) had left Surat with their families soon after the Centre announced the nationwide lockdown.
But health department had put them under home quarantine for 14 days. As their quarantine period ended on April 8, the two brothers and their children have been visiting their agricultural farm regularly to help share-croppers in harvesting gram, cutting fodder for their cattle etc.
But the cousins are concerned about labourers working for them back in Surat.
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