KOLKATA: Migrant labourers from West Bengal have posed a simple question to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who urged them to return to the state if they felt threatened: “Where are the jobs?”
Mamata had urged Bengali workers in other states to return if they felt threatened in the wake of the murder of Malda native Mohammad Afrajul Khan in Rajasthan and the killing of Bankura native Hemant Roy in Kerala.
“If any labourer wants to return, we will help them. We will provide initial support of `50,000 and arrange for 100 days’ work, which could be increased to 200 days’ work if necessary,” she said.
Several Bengali labourers this correspondent spoke to over phone expressed their unwillingness to return to West Bengal, citing a host of problems. “Like me, many youth from our village are building pucca houses and have bought motorbikes on instalments by working in Kerala where daily wage of `1,000 is highest in India. Will we be able to complete our houses or pay the EMI by working 100 days for scant and irregular pay?” asked Shantanu Mondal of Birbhum district.
Another labourer, Ikramul Haque of Malda, said: “I would not have had to quit our village to work in harsh conditions as a gold artisan in Surat had there been plenty of jobs in our state.”