Can’t leave jobs again, will stay put, say migrant labourers

No unprecedented rush at stations: Northern Rlys

Can’t leave jobs again, will stay put, say migrant labourers

A migrant family at the railway station in Jalandhar. File photo

Sukhmeet Bhasin & Neeraj Bagga

Tribune News Service

Bathinda/Amritsar, April 10

Despite fears of a second lockdown, a large section of migrant workers is staying back to earn livelihood in Bathinda and Mansa districts.

The workers said last year’s memories were still afresh and they would continue to work and earn for their survival.

Mohan, who hails from Tehri Garhwal in Uttarakhand and presently works as a cook at a eating joint in Bathinda, said, “We fear that a lockdown might be imposed again as cases are on the rise, but this time, we will not go back. When I went back during the first lockdown, I struggled a lot to find a job.”

Another labourer Hari Yadav from Gorakhpur said, “Harvesting season is starting in Punjab, so it is the time when we can earn some money. Moreover, nowadays, getting work is quite difficult, so we can’t leave the job midway. There is no question of going back.”

No question of returning home

Harvesting season is starting in Punjab, so it is the time when we can earn some money. Moreover, nowadays, getting work is quite difficult, so we can’t leave the job midway. There is no question of going back. —Hari Yadav, Migrant labourer

Sidhant Gupta, a trader, said, “Business owners are ready to give all help to their workers on the condition that they should not go back. Last time, after the curbs were relaxed, finding labour was a difficult task.”

A Railways official said, “There is no rush of migrants in trains. Routine passengers are boarding the trains.”

In Amritsar too, there is no visible panic among migrants to return to their native places.

Rajesh, who works at an embroidery unit, said despite the fear of restrictions, he would not return home in panic. He said for a person with family, the travel cost was too much for a long distance. Ram Prakash, a power loom worker, said he was getting work for five days a week. With such a meagre income, it was not possible to afford travel cost of the entire family unless the government pitches in. “I am not being paid a fixed salary and the wages are decided on a piece-rate basis. Earning Rs 12,000 per month has become a difficult task after the lockdown. With this amount, it is difficult to feed a five-member family and bear education and medical expenses, besides paying the room rent,” he said.

Ram Jagat, 61, working as a private security guard, is heading back to his native village in Sultanpur district of UP to take part in the elections as his cousin is contesting but there is no fear of lockdown.

Ram Bhawan Goswami, general secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Parishad, Punjab, said, “There are 16 units in the district and each of them has at least 21 executive members, who have been instructed to tell migrants not to panic and adhere to Covid guidelines. So this time, there is no panic among them.”

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