Stranded migrant workers stage protest outside DC’s office in Amritsar

At least two hundred migrant workers and their families staged a protest outside the deputy commissioner’s (DC’s) office here on Wednesday, and demanded that their return to their native places be facilitated.

They said they had been stranded in the district for three months.

“We do not have any accommodation, food or employment. It is difficult for us to continue like this any longer, especially for those with young children,” a protesting migrant labourer said.

MIGRANTS CAMPING NEAR RAILWAY STATION TOLD TO MOVE 

The protestors had been waiting to return home for the last four-five days near the Amritsar railway station.

“Now, we have been asked to vacate the area near the railway station as shops have started opening,” a protestor said.

The protest started around 9am. Labourers say they will continue the sit-in until they get some assurance from the administration.

“Around 50 of us had been working in Beas town before the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Now, we have been sacked. We cannot live here anymore and want to return home,” said migrant labourer Vidhya Devi Chauhan.

“For the last four days we had been living outside the railway station. Some of us had been sleeping without food. There was no toilet facility. We have applied to return home, but have not received any response. Yesterday, some policemen took copies of our Aadhaar cards, but we don’t know when we will be allowed to return to our native places,” said Chauhan.

Mithun Kumar of Bihar said, “We have been out of work for the last three months. At least 1,000 labourers are still stranded here. The Bihar government should arrange for our return.”

Rajesh Kumar of Chattisgarh said, “We have been living on the roads. Arranging food and a bath has become difficult for us.”

“For last four days, we have been told that no trains are available. The lockdown is killing us, not coronavirus,” said a woman cradling her child.

Shramik trains will be arranged: ADC 

Additional deputy commissioner (ADC-general) Himanshu Aggarwal said the migrant workers had come to the railway station on Tuesday night. “Those who had come to the railway station before yesterday were sent to shelter homes,” he said.

“Most of the workers who have gathered outside the DC’s office had been working in brick kilns. They are from Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh,” Aggarwal said.

Aggarwal said, “We have asked the owners of the brick kilns to provide the exact number of migrant workers who want to return home.”

“Earlier, half-empty Shramik trains had run from Amritsar to various states. If we had the details of these migrants labourers, we would have sent them home. Now, these migrants will be shifted to shelters. After ascertaining the total migrants who want to go to their native places we will arrange Sharmik trains for them,” he said.

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