Migrant workers protest in Koyambedu and other parts of Chennai

Migrant workers waiting outside Ripon Buildings, the Greater Chennai Corporation headquarters on Monday, to know about train services for them to return to their home.   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

Migrant labourers resorted to minor protests on roads in some parts of city demanding that they be allowed to return to their native states.

In Koyambedu, over 1,000 migrant labourers hailing from Bihar were working as loadmen and were doing other tasks in the wholesale market. As they could not find food or shelter, the agitated workers walked to Koyambedu police station for assistance. Police personnel prevented them from proceeding towards Central Railway Station and held talks with them. The police collected the details from them for arranging their return.

Similar unrest was witnessed in other parts of the city such as Aminjikarai, Tambaram, Pallavaram and Ambattur. Local police held talks with the migrant workers and promised to arrange their return soon. However, some of them reached Central Railway Station, Chennai Corporation and Chennai Police Commissioner’s office by foot from far away places in the city and urged the authorities to give them details about the arrangement for their return home.

Over 1,000 construction workers protested in a construction site in JK Nagar, Alapakkam as the firm denied them permission to leave their shelter, police said. These construction labourers came from villages in Bihar, Jharkand and West Bengal a few months ago. They were engaged by contractors to do construction work for a private firm. From Sunday evening, they were protesting and demanding return to their native towns.

“I came with about 400 people from a village in Bihar. We were working here at construction site. A few days ago the contractors collected all our Aadhar cards and identity cards for arranging our return home. They have not arranged anything and instead are asking us to work now,”said Habib, a worker. Police beefed up security for the premises from Sunday evening.

Rahul Sharma from West Bengal said, “They collected all our documents on the pretext of arranging return journey. Now they refuse to do so and ask us to resume work since the lockdown has been lifted for construction activity. We received information from our friends that there will be special train for us. I am afraid that my train will go and I will miss the chance to see my family soon.”

Balaji Sampath, founder of Aid India said, “It is the responsibility of the authorities to redress the grievances of migrant labourers. Authorities are yet to pay attention to the grievances of migrant labourers. They are under stress. When the government is about to operate train services, the firm refuses them to leave in this case. They need to go back to their homes to see their families. They will definitely come back.”

A senior police officer said, “It is a dispute between a private firm and its labourers. Our personnel have been deployed to ensure that no untoward incident happens.”

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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 6:09:39 PM |

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