Skip to main content

Stuck in lockdown, Kutch NGO rescues, helps migrant workers return home

Migrants workers tell their plight to Samerth team
By Gazala Paul*
As much of India watches in horror and utter disbelief the streams of bedraggled, hungry and wretched migrant labourers leaving large cities across India and walking it back to their native villages in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh among other states, there are thousands others who remain trapped and stuck in towns where they had previously moved to work.
While the hapless and broken men, women and children have trudged -- many thousands continue to walk even now -- hundreds of miles, there are several hundred migrant labourers whose lives have turned miserable after being stranded in Gujarat's inhospitable Kutch region.
There are now reports that 64 such labourers -- from as far afield as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan -- who were detained in April by the state police at Adesar village in Rapar block of Kutch when they tried to walk it back to their native villages.
Held at the Adesar primary school building, these labourers were not served even basic food since the time the trucks they were travelling in to leave Kutch were stopped by the local police sometime in the third week of April when the Covid-19 scare hit the country in general and Gujarat in particular.
Migrant families outside the shelter home provided by local authorities 
Their plight forced the Rapar Taluka Development Officer (TDO) Dahyabhai Chavda to approach Samerth Charitable Trust, an Ahmedabad-based NGO, which recently provided dry ration to economically marginalised communities in the area, for distribution of foodgrains to the 64 labourers (43 men and 21 women).
These labourers were working in Adesar since their arrival there between six to eight months ago. When the national lockdown was suddenly imposed on March 25, these labourers did not leave immediately and stayed back in the respective agricultural fields where they worked.
They spent for daily existence from the wages they had earned. But within a few days their cash was exhausted. It was then that they decided to take matters in their hands and undertake the journey by trucks, bicycle and tractors. But on April 27, the police stopped the vehicles in which they were travelling and detained them at a check post before lodging them at the local primary school.
When lockdown was imposed, factory owners sacked them and told them to leave. The duo decided to cycle their way to homeland
When Ashish Mehta, team leader of the Samerth Trust programme, was approached by Taluka Development Officer Chavda about the situation, the Samerth team quickly put together ration kits, with each package comprising quantities of wheat flour, rice, spices, jaggery, potato and onion that would last them for 2 weeks.
Migrant workers who bought by bicycle to go back to homeland
 Niraj Kumar Pal (24) and Monu Ramdhar Pal (25), who hail from Saultanpur district in UP, said they worked as contract labourers at Inductotherm factory near Samakhiali. When the lockdown was imposed, the factory owners sacked them and told them to leave.
The duo decided to cycle their way to their native villages. "We purchased two bicycles for Rs 4,000 each from a vendor at Samakhiali town before hitting the road," Monu Ramdhar said. They were apprehended and detained by the Kutch police before they were sent to Adesar. The ration supplied by Samerth helped sustain them for at a week.
Likewise, Joginder Rajput, his wife and four-year-old son were also stopped and sent to the primary school at Adesar. Residents of Balavas village in Hissar (Haryana), the Rajputs worked as labourers at a construction site near Lakadiya village.
They lost their jobs, were detained and lodged at the Adesar school. But when Samerth team members handed over the food kits to him, he said this would help his small family to survive for three to four days. And when he watched his son eating, Joginder turned emotional.
Bus provided to a section of migrant workers to return home
Two women labourers, Nimubai Polaram and Kalibai Chuniram, from Haryana worked on an agricultural field near Padampur village. Like the others, they too were detained at the Adesar school where they cooked food on their own food because of the ration supplied by Samerth Trust.
These labourers had to also serve the mandatory quarantine period of 14 days before they were allowed to leave for their own villages. Two Adesar donors provided a total of Rs 50,000 for the labourers to hire a bus and on May 13; 35 of the 64 labourers left for their villages in Rajasthan and Haryana.
The Adesar village sarpanch, Bhagabhai Ahir, helped with completing all the formalities for the smooth travel. The other labourers will leave for their villages in UP, Bihar and Punjab shortly.
---
*Founder of Samerth Trust that works in Gujarat and Chattisgarh

Comments

TRENDING

Nirma varsity demand for higher fees 'illegal', violates Article 14: Letter to Gujarat HC

Counterview Desk
Students of Gujarat’s top private institute, Nirma University, situated in the outskirts of Ahmedabad, in a letter to the Chief Justice the state High Court, have complained that the authorities are demanding “full fees” from students, without taking into account the “disproportionate impact” the lockdown has on the livelihood of students and families.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Vulnerable to Covid-19, sharp rise in murder of Indian journalists during pandemic

By Nava Thakuria*
Vulnerability of working journalists in India is no way an alien issue as the populous country loses a number of working journalists to assailants as also medical emergencies. Even though there was only one casualty in the Indian media fraternity during the first half of 2020, who was targeted for journalistic work, India has begun witnessing an alarming number of media casualties during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Govt 'assures' Gujarat HC no action against MBBS students defying corona sahayak order

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government has assured the High Court that no action would be taken against Part-I and Part-II MBBS students of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC)-controlled NHL Medical College and LG Hospital and Medical College. The assurance follows the direction by Justice SH Vora to the State government not to prosecute or initiate action against the students who were defying the college authorities’ order to work as corona sahayaks (helpers).

Ex-official: Murmu, appointed as CAG, will 'surely' perform shradh of the institution

Counterview Desk
A former senior official of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), Shantanu Basu, in a Facebook comment in the wake of the appointment of GC Murmu, a Gujarat IAS cadre official of the 1985, has raised doubts about the independence of CAG following the Government of India move.

Renounced US citizenship to serve workers, tribals, Sudha Bharadwaj 'odiously' in jail

By Atul, Sandeep Pandey*
Professor Sudha Bharadwaj has been in jail since August 2018. She was taken into police custody on August 26, 2018 on suspicion of being involved in Maoist terror activities after Republic TV claimed that she had allegedly written a letter to Maoists and was conspiring to create public disorder and unrest in India.

Plant organic, eat fresh: Emlen Bage's journey from migrant labour to agri-entrepreneur

By Chandrashekar and Kriti*
Who is a farmer? Type this question in the google search and check out the images? You can see men thronging the screen. This is the popular perception around the globe. Well one can understand how difficult it would be for a woman to defy this perception.

High youth unemployment: India 'fails' to take advantage of demographic dividend

By Varun Kumar
As coronavirus pandemic continues amplifying challenges among youth with regard to employment opportunities, government policies have further resulted in economic slowdown, leading to mass unemployment and loss jobs. According to the International Labour Organisation report “Covid-19 and the World of Work” (May 27, 2020), around 94 percent of the world’s workers are living in countries with some sort of workplace closure measures in place.

Dichotomy? US Hindutva groups oppose racism, mum on Modi's 'anti-minority' stance

By Our Representative
The Hindus for Human Rights (HHR), a US-based advocacy group, has noticed a major dichotomy between the stance taken by RSS’ US arm, Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh (HSS), expressing “shock” at the “painful killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others”, all of which suggest “the tragic tale of racial injustice” in US, and HSS’ “hatred” for India’s religious minorities and Dalits.