The fear of epidemic and loss of livelihood is seeing migrant workers leave Srinagar in droves. Outside the airport, there is once again a deluge of people waiting to fly back home.
Jahangir Mohammad from Araria in Bihar waited for a free flight for two days outside the airport in the relief camp of the BSF (Border Security Force).
On Wednesday, he booked a Spicejet flight to Chandigarh for ` 2250. Some airlines are offering free tickets but they are no more available.
A painter at construction site, for Jahangir, it’s his first air flight.
He says he came all the way to Srinagar and he was making ` 1000 a day. “The Kashmiris are rich people. They pay us well.
Initially, we thought floodwaters would recede, but now there is fear of disease. My employer said he has no money to pay me or keep me.
Some of us have left the money they owed to us and have booked a flight to go back home,” he says.
Before the flight takes off, the airhostess sends an SOS to the ground crew saying there is not enough cups of noodles and mango juice, both of which are paid. The crew distributes them for free in the flight full of migrant workers from UP, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, many of them Muslims.
Rajinder Singh from Madhya Pradesh, a migrant worker at a construction site in Srinagar, makes ` 300 a day for his work.
“This is more than what I can make in my state or anywhere else. They have good money and most had stocked rations for six months before onset of winters which has been destroyed,” he adds.
However, not all migrant workers have money to buy the tickets.
Some people from Gujarat said there are nearly 2,000 of them who want to fly back home, but there are no free tickets available now for these desperate people.
One of them even urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the former Gujarat chief minister through television channels to help them send home by the earliest flight.
“Today is the Prime Minister’s birthday and it will be a goodwill gesture for Gujaratis,” he says.