It all depends on the level of desperation at home.
Post Mumbai attacks, a close look at the three states that supply the highest number of unorganised labour to the rest of the country — Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh — has revealed curious facts. While Bihar and Jharkhand labourers still want to go wherever there are jobs, parents in better-off UP are pleading with their wards to come back.
Recent spot visits have confirmed that Bihari labourers continue to constitute over 50 per cent of the workforce at most construction sites in Mumbai, Delhi, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon.
But in UP, people are wary. Trains from Mumbai are running packed. The Basti, Khalilabad, Azamgarh, Gorakhpur, Naugarh and Deoria railway stations are humming with activity these days when trains from Mumbai arrive. People are thronging the stations either to receive or to inquire about the well being of their family members from those returning.
Tripurari Prasad, a North Eastern Railway official, said only a week ago, no reservation was available on the Gorakhpur-Dadar Express, Gorakhpur-Bandra Express, Kushinagar Express, Godan Express and Chapra/Azamgarh-Mumbai Express to Mumbai.
But now, several of them are running half occupied. “Ever since the terrorist attack, a large number of people have
cancelled their tickets.”
And those returning have horror stories to share. Jamil Ahmed, a resident of Saraimir in Azamagarh district, said: “I am thankful to god for ensuring my safe return. A large number of people were killed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal station. I was lucky to escape unhurt.”
Mohammad Sharif, a resident of Sant Kabir Nagar district, has asked his 21-year-old son, Jamir Ahmed, to cancel his trip to Mumbai in search of a career and return to his village.
Sharif told HT: “I would not send my son to Mumbai. Instead, he will look for a job in another city. A local lad, Feroze Ahmed, was shot in Taj Hotel by the terrorists.”
Bihar Labour Minister Awadhesh Narain Singh claimed there was a significant drop in migration of labourers from Bihar too. It was not because of the attacks, but “because more work is now available in Bihar”.
(Inputs from Rajesh Kumar Singh in Lucknow,Rai Atul Krishna in Patna, Anil Kumar in Ranchi and Vinay Kumar Mishra in Jamshedpur)