PATNA/RANCHI: The Karnataka government’s decision to cancel trains for migrants to return to their home state has evoked sharp reactions in Bihar. The families of the stranded migrants and the opposition lashed out at the B S Yediyurappa government for ‘holding the workers hostage’.
Three trains were scheduled to leave Karnataka on Wednesday carrying around 3,500 workers to Bihar.
The decision to cancel the trains came after the CM’s meeting with builders during which they expressed concerns about labour shortage if the migrants went back.
The authorities in Bihar appear to have heaved a sigh of relief as the state government has been reluctant to accept the migrants. Pratyay Amrit, principal secretary (disaster management), who is the nodal officer for migrants, said, “The workers from Bihar have been convinced by the Karnataka government to stay back and have been reassured about their jobs as construction and other sectors would be started again.”
The Opposition, however, went hammer and tongs against the move.
“When Karnataka builders had more than 40 days to serve humanity by helping migrant workers with wages, rents and ration in testing times! They were abandoned & treated as lesser human & burden on exchequer! And now to set the business rolling, they are being stopped to go home!” RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav tweeted.
“Karnataka CM can’t dictate migrant workers, rubbishing their human rights and basic empathy! Any move to treat them as bonded labourers or slaves will not be tolerated at all.”
Tejashwi said in another tweet and asked CM Nitish Kumar to send a “stern message” to his Karnataka counterpart.
The families of the stranded labourers are a worried lot. Madhuri Devi of Vaishali district said her husband was desperate to return.
Lallmun Kumar, 56, whose son works in Bengaluru, said, “They must not treat the people of Bihar as bonded labourers.”
‘Threatened, misguided’, say migrants from Kerala
A group of 65 migrants from Dumka in Jharkhand, who reached Ranchi from Ernakulum in Kerala in a special train on Wednesday, alleged they were not being allowed to come back by their employers.
They said they were misguided that there was no train for Jharkhand.
The workers were confined in a building and were not being allowed to go out suspecting they would run away.
However, they managed to come out of the facility where they were lodged on Monday and walked for more than 5 km to reach Aluva, where they registered for the journey.
“The employers threatened us that if we left the premises, we will not be allowed to come back,” said Nirmal Tudu.
Another group of workers from Hazaribagh who worked for a construction company in Aluva alleged that the helpline numbers of the state government to facilitate migrants’ return was just an eye-wash as none of them worked.