Focus is on workplace and place of stay; deadline for enumeration at workplace March 25

The suspected involvement of persons from other States in a burglary at a jewellery showroom in Tirupur and the daylight robberies in banks in Chennai has pointed the needle of suspicion towards migrant workers.

With the enforcement agencies beginning the exercise to enumerate the migrant workers, the flow of manpower from the northern States to the industries here may get affected, says a hotelier.

The engineering, textile, foundry, catering, hotel and construction sectors here look for its manpower from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Mizoram, Manipur, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Odisha and Assam. While in the organised sector, most of the employers do not maintain records of the workers, in the unorganised sector, the workers do not stay at one place for a longer time.

According to the police officers, enumeration of migrant workers needs to begin with the human resource agents, who bring them here. Employers should get all personal details from the workers and could approach the police for verifying their antecedents.

The possibility of bio-metric data capturing may also be explored as it is done for everything now and there is no taboo attached to it.

The next possible way of enumeration could be to approach house owners, who either let their houses on rent or lease.

Those in real estate business and those dealing with getting houses on rent for brokerage can also be involved.

Denying charges of discrimination against migrant workers in the process, a police officer said that enumeration was being necessitated only after crime incidents with the suspected involvement of persons from other States were reported.

The exercise would act as a deterrent and prevent people from indulging in unlawful or criminal activities and in the event of a crime, the investigators would not be clueless, he added.

The problem in identifying and tracking migrant labourers in and around the city is that most work in unorganised sector.

That too only for a short period – till the task at hand is completed. This is nowhere truer than the construction industry.

Organising such migrant workforce is a challenge, say trade union activists and Left party leaders.

In the construction industry and a few mills and factories, for example, it becomes difficult to interact with the workforce, for their employers are keen to keep them in isolation, says M. Arumugham, district secretary, Communist Party of India.

Language and cultural barriers are also a factor, says C. Padmanabhan, a trade union activist.

The workers who come to the city are contracted to a factory or mill.

Given the language barrier they hardly interact with the local people and thereby lose the chance to air their grievances.

The Labour Department must play a role in asking the employers to main a record of the workers, adds Mr. Arumugham. Once that is done, there will be no need for the enumeration, as ordered by Collector.

The administration has fixed May 5 as the deadline for house owners to inform about tenants , and real estate business persons to report purchase of properties to the jurisdiction police station or else face action under the provisions of Section 188 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) for disobedience to an order legally promulgated by a Government servant. This relates to place of stay.

The city police have fixed March 25 as the deadline for finishing the enumeration at work places.

What they say:

P.R. Natarajan, MP, Coimbatore

Tracking, enumerating or carrying out the exercise to identify migrant labourers in the city or district is unfair. Crimes committed by a few should not lead us to look at the entire ‘community’ with suspicion. The government or the district administration should look at ways to ensure that their rights at workplaces are not violated.

M. Karunagaran, District Collector

The administration in a bid to have some records about migrant workers has now called upon the owners of properties to keep the jurisdiction police station informed about their tenants. Stringent action will be taken against them if they fail to comply with the order.

T.P. Sundaramoorthy, Commissioner of Police

The very idea of enumerating the migrant workers is to ensure that those giving the particulars are not harassed based on blind suspicion in the event of a crime. Enumeration per say does not categorise a migrant worker as a criminal and it is only for consolidation of records. Inspectors have been asked to complete the enumeration by March 25.


House owners arrested March 19, 2012

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