As India eases lockdown, migrants in Bihar leave state in search of work
Migrant labourers from Bihar, who came back to their native state from across the country by Shramik Special trains amid the easing of nationwide lockdown restrictions that were imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, are returning to their place of work on completion of their mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Purnia residents and 30-something Sayeed and Sajid left for Haryana by a luxury bus on Friday. “We can’t afford to let go of our jobs because of the pandemic. Our employee has been calling us back since we returned around a month ago,” they said. Both of them work for a construction firm in Haryana.
Similarly, Purnia residents and construction labourers, Muzaffar and Dilshad, too, left their native district on Friday, as their employer has promised to pay them between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 a month. “Our employer has assured us that we would make one-and-a-half times more in a month than what we used to earn earlier,” they said.
Previously, they used to earn between Rs 500 and Rs 700 daily for their work.
Md Izharul (35), a resident Amour block in the district, had come back from Chandigarh by a Shramik Special train and is now all set to go back to his workplace. “I’ve completed my quarantine period. It’s high time to go back since the state government is not in a position to provide us with any kind of employment,” he said.
So far, over 100 migrants from Purnia have left for Haryana by special buses, which were sent by big farmers and realtors.
Purnia district magistrate Rahul Kumar said, “We’re generating employment at the local level in various forms. We’re also trying to convince the migrants to stay back, but we can’t compel them if they want to go back to their workplace.”
Migrants are feeling reassured to go back, as they are now in direct contact with their employers and greedy middlemen cannot dupe them any longer.
“The situation has changed for the better. The middleman can no longer give us a raw deal,” said Md Parwez, a Purnia resident.
Md Tarique, a fellow labourer, agreed with Md Parwez. “We had to give up to Rs 300 daily to a middleman. Fortunately, we don’t need to part with that cash anymore and our entire daily earnings are coming to us,” Md Tarique said.