Migrant workers stage protest at AIIMS in Bathinda, pelt stones at police

Accuse company of demanding Rs 3,000 per head as travel expenses

Sukhmeet Bhasin
Tribune News Service
Bathinda, May 16

Migrant workers at Bathinda's AIIMS clashed with police as they demanded to be sent back to their home states during the lockdown.

Angry protesters accused construction companies of procrastination, and pelted stones at police forces deployed in the area, prompting law enforcement to resort to "mild" baton charging, police sources said.    

Workers claimed their companies had given them a date for return, but were now demanding Rs 3,000 per head to cover travel expenses. 

Migrant worker Adbul Karim, a native of West Bengal, said: “We went on strike and stopped the work, as today was the date when the company had promised us to send us back, so we staged a protest demanding that we wanted to go back to our native place”.

Roop Chand, a migrant worker from Haryana, said they had not been paid for four months now. 

"There's no money. Everything is expensive here," he said.

Most workers here from West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Bathida SSP Nanak Singh denied any incidents of stone pelting despite videos of the alleged incident doing the rounds. Sing said the district administration was trying to ensure the migrants return. 

Loss of livelihoods and dwindling finances because of the nationwide lockdown called to slow the spread of coronavirus has sent migrants scurrying back home, many of them risking their lives in the process.  

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