Migrants from states other than Bihar and UP lose hope of going home
While the district administration has arranged transport for a number of migrant workers of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, arrangements for other states are still unclear.Updated: May 21, 2020 11:09 IST
Sita Koshley and her father Sukhchain Koshley, part of a group of around 22 labourers from Mungeli, Chhattisgarh, have never felt so betrayed in their lives. Fetched by a contractor in February to work at a construction site in Delhi, the group decided to walk back home after their rations got over in the days following the lockdown announcement. The man who lured them to Delhi for a daily wage of ₹350 per person had fled without paying them.
The group, like many others, were stopped at the Delhi-Noida border and the police brought them to the Sector 19 shelter home on May 16, where after were asked to wait for their turn to go home.
“We had been waiting for the past four days and whenever we ask officials when our turn will come, they tell us to wait. We requested them to allow us to walk back home. Yes, we get food here, and a place to sleep, but after all that has happened to us, we simply want to go back home,” Sita said.
Like the rest of her group, she used to work at a construction site called ‘Janpath hotel’ and the contractor had fled without paying them. They had no choice but to walk back home.
The migrants in the group said they received an allowance of ₹1,000 each in March and till April, they also received weekly rations.However, after that the man who brought them to Delhi fled and they were left with no food or supplies.
“The contractor, Ashok Patel, got us here saying the wages would be good, and so we came. When we asked for our complete wages, he said if he gave us that all the money, we might lose it. Ultimately, he stopped coming to our shanties at the site after the lockdown was extended. We know we will never get our pending wages, but at least let us go home,” Sukhchain said.
While the district administration has arranged transport for a number of migrant workers of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, arrangements for other states are still unclear. While the city saw around 84,000 registrations for Shramik Special trains, more migrants continued to reach Noida from Delhi and elsewhere.
Several people from Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand who attempted to walk home from Delhi and elsewhere, were stopped at the Delhi-UP border and brought to different shelter homes in Noida.
Rajmani Patel, along with his friends, Aman Patel and Himanshu Joshi who hail from Rewa in Madhya Pradesh were also stopped on the Delhi-Noida Expressway after walking from Zirakhour, Mohali district, Punjab.
“We used to work at an e-commerce platform that sold clothes and accessories. Since online shopping stopped and ours’ was a commission-based earning, we had nothing to do but to leave. The landlord was also pressuring us to leave. We walked till Noida, but are now stuck with nothing but abuses from police and khichdi to eat for the past three days,” Rajmani said.
“We understand that those from Bihar and UP are being given preference, so we requested officials to sent us till Prayagraj, from where we can take a taxi to Rewa. But they didn’t agree to that either,’ said Himanshu Joshi.
Jasmatiya Devi, Satnarayan Bhagat and Kalicharan Narua from a village in Lohardaga district in Jharkhand were among hundreds living at the congested Noida authority’s shelter home. Workers at a steel workshop at Nangloi, Delhi, these migrants decided to walk to home from Delhi, but were bought to the shelter home and asked to wait.
“Our maalik (shop owner) did not pay us a single penny, nor did he give us ration. They don’t care if we live or die. All our savings were coming to an end and the meals being distributed at the schools by government were not enough. What other option did we had other than walking?” Bhagat said.
According to officials, the administration is working on arranging transport for the migrants other than Bihar and UP as well.
“We are reviewing the situation, and registrations are also being received online from the workers who are from Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere. We are working on arranging transport from them very soon,” MN Upadhyay, additional divisional magistrate (finance), Gautam Budh Nagar, said.