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Chandigarh police step in to prevent migration of workers

Migrants in Chandigarh’s Manimajra area who were asked by a tavern owner to vacate premises.  

On his way to Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, after walking from a town in Himachal Pradesh, Lachman Singh — a truck driver — reached Chandigarh on Monday morning where the police stopped him. He along with a few others were asked to go back even as they said that they hardly have any money left.

“They (police) took my details and asked me to return from where I had come. I don’t have any option but to go back. I hardly have any money left. I don’t know how will I return,” said Mr. Singh, who claimed that he was stuck near a village in Himachal Pradesh’s Swarghat town, 78 km from here.

‘No money’

“I had taken my truck to deliver bitumen mixture at a plant near Swarghat from Bathinda. After the lockdown was announced, I couldn’t go anywhere. I had around ₹3,500 with me and almost all of it was spent in my stay over there. I was sleeping in the truck. As I ran out of money, I decided to leave my truck and head to my home town,” he said.

“No one stopped me in Punjab or Himachal... since morning I have just had a cup of tea and biscuit that the police here has offered,” he added.

Pradeep Kumar, an operator at a rice mill based in Mandi Kharar in Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar district, said he wants to reach Moradabad in U.P. He was among those who were stopped by the police at the (Punjab-Chandigarh) border in Sector 48. “They have directed me to go back. I don’t have much money left now. Since, the lockdown, the mill has been shut and workers like me were asked to make travel and food arrangements ourselves. They cleared my dues till the lockdown date,” he said.

Expressing similar sentiments, Rahul and Vishnu, who had been working at a local sweets shop in Kharar in Mohali, said they were headed for Agra but now are going back to the shop owner’s “godown” where they had been staying.

Police step in

Meanwhile, to ensure that migrant labourers do not suffer due to lockdown, the Chandigarh police have been on its toes. The police on Monday shifted 72 migrant labourers, who were about to leave Chandigarh for their native places, to their current place of stay and a few others to a shelter home in Maloya.

Also, a case has been registered under Sections 188, 269, 270 of the IPC at Manimajra against Mahesh Kumar, of Panchkula (Haryana), who forced labourers working in his tavern to leave. Chandigarh police spokesperson Charanjit Singh Virk said the labourers, who were stopped at Sector 48 border, were persuaded by the police to stay at the local shelter, but they opted to go back.

In neighbouring Mohali, at a construction site in the aero city, visibly distressed Shankar Mandal, a daily wager, said he was running out of ration. “I and my brother had come form Bihar’s Araria a few days ago. We earned around ₹400 daily but since the lockdown we haven’t been paid anything by the contractor,” he said.

In Punjab’s Jalandhar cantonment, around 40 people have sought assistance. “We want the government to arrange transport for us to our village in Supaul district in Bihar. Otherwise, arrange food for us,” said Mohammed Sheraj.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 3:25:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/chandigarh-police-step-in-to-prevent-migration-of-workers/article31212064.ece

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