Migrant workers set out on their own, but stopped in their tracks

Migrant workers, who wish to return to their native places, have been put up at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) on the outskirts of Bengaluru.

Migrant workers, who wish to return to their native places, have been put up at Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) on the outskirts of Bengaluru.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Labourers try to go back to Uttar Pradesh from Mysuru but find themselves at BIEC

They did not hear from the authorities for almost 10 days after registering their names on the Seva Sindhu portal to head back to their native places in Uttar Pradesh from Mysuru.

So, a group of 12 migrant labourers, most of whom are in their twenties and thirties, who had been working at construction site on KRS Road, piled themselves onto an empty goods truck two days ago to leave the city in a desperate bid to reach their respective home towns in Uttar Pradesh.

Though the truck was headed to Hyderabad in Telangana, the migrants hoped to catch another ride to their native places from there. But, they were stopped in their tracks when the truck was not allowed to cross Karnataka’s border with Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday night by security personnel. They were broughtto Bengaluru and put up at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC).

“Though we registered on the Seva Sindhu portal on May 4, we did not hear from the authorities. We approached the officials at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Mysuru, but were told to wait for our turn. But, for how long can we wait? Though more than 10 days have passed, we have not received any text message or information. We had no work for almost two months now and our parents are waiting for our return”, said Rajdev, a native of Gorakhpur, who had been working as a painter at the construction site of a residential complex on KRS Road.

After exhausting all their options by knocking on the doors of the police officials and the railways to facilitate the return to their native, this group of 12 migrant labourers negotiated with a truck driver on Wednesday to drop them in Hyderabad for ₹22,000. When their journey was cut short, the truck driver, however, returned ₹17,000, they said.

The migrant labourers, however, said they were provided with food and place to sleep at BIEC. “We have been asked to wait here till arrangements are made for us to go back to our native places”, Rajdev told The Hindu over phone.

The migrant labourers said they were among the hundreds put up at the BIEC.

Even though their employer in Mysuru tried to convince them to stay on as construction work at the site will resume with the easing of the lockdown norms, the migrant labourers were unwilling to stay on. “We will engage ourselves in agriculture on our lands back in our native places to earn a livelihood”, said Prashant, who was accompanying Rajdev.

Labour Department officials in Mysuru said the migrants registered on Seva Sindh portal will receive a text message only if their native State gives consent to their return. The Karnataka government has little role to play in granting permission. “They may give permission after making arrangements for their return like testing and quarantining if necessary”, the official said.

Almost 2,000 migrant labourers in Mysuru had registered themselves on the Seva Sindhu portal to return to their native places in different places of North India including Rajasthan, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Railway officials said they will not be able to operate Shramik Special trains from Mysuru to different places. Even though 2,000 migrants had registered on the portal, a train can be operated only if there are 1,200 people from one particular destination to another. In Mysuru’s case, the migrants were headed to different States of North India.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 11:36:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/migrant-workers-set-out-on-their-own-but-stopped-in-their-tracks/article31593005.ece

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