Migrant labourers returning to their hamlets in the interiors of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, among others, are finding the road to their homes barred, even as neighbours report them to the police for fear of contracting coronavirus. Village panchayats are now insisting that they get an ‘all clear’ certificate from health officials and undergo quarantine before entering the villages or homes.
Ram Sahay has been waiting at Jaipur’s Sindhi Camp bus stand with his wife and children since Saturday. A worker at a stone crushing factory in Beawar, he walked miles to reach Jaipur only to be informed that his brothers don’t want him to come home to Kota without screening. Dozens of migrant workers, who reached Tagavali village of Dholpur in Rajasthan, also faced boycott at their villages. Dholpur SP Mridul Kachawa said, “Migrants coming back are unwelcome.
People complain that workers from Kerala, Delhi and Jodhpur have come to their colonies without screening, so now we are screening all.” Nisith Singh of Baghmundi in Purulia of West Bengal voiced his village’s concern: “There are only two tube-wells and a pond in our village. If we allow them, they will infect us all. We have to ban them till they are cleared.” Administrations have had to ensure 14-day quarantine of such returnees in local government buildings.
“A large section of some 7,000 migrants returning to Purulia has not allowed to enter their ancestral hamlets in Murshidabad, Nadia, Hooghly, Burdwan, Bankura and Jhargram and West Midnapore districts,” said an official. Inspector Nagmani Kumar of Gaurichak police station said, “Some 40 persons have been reported by villagers from Alawalpur, Fatehpur, Kandap and Masadhi villages. Of them, two had come from Nepal.”
In another instance, youths returning from Karnataka in West Champaran were handed over to the police while at Ufraul village in Vaishali district, youths set up road blockades barring all.Over two dozen villages of Chhattisgarh have also locked down and entry of natives and outsiders without medical clearance is barred. “We are advising all to get certified from the health centre,” said villagers at Barnawapara, 80 km from Raipur. ‘Gulabi Gang,’ a women’s group in Kohka village at Tilda announced that no one is allowed inside during lockdown period. “They must be cleared by health officials first,” said Raj Kumari, who has organized vigil shifts to enforce the ban.
In Jharkhand too, several villages have barred entry of migrants and outsiders and put up barricades with notices banning entry. “If anyone gets in with coronavirus, we’ll be ruined. The decision to ban was taken collectively,” said Dilip Dangi of Chikar village in Ramgarh. In Assam and Northeast too, villages have resorted to social barricading and refusing entry to unconfirmed cases. There is huge social opposition in Uttarakhand where some 40,000 migrants are filtering in. Priya Devi of Tadikhet village was not allowed to enter and was reported to the authorities who quarantined her at Haldwani. Ashutosh Dimri of Bhkiyasain village said, “We will not allow people without screening.” Reports of mild opposition to migrants were also reported from Chamoli and Pauri districts. Inputs from Pranab Mondal, Rajesh Kumar Thakur, Rajesh Asnani, Prasanta, Mukesh, Vineet Upadhyay