Migrant held for Assam murder, underlining state government’s database plans

The Kerala government initiated the process of registering migrant workers on August 7 after the brutal rape and murder of a five-year-old girl from Bihar by a migrant worker from the same state.

Published: 14th August 2023 06:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2023 06:53 AM   |  A+A-

Death, murder

Image used for representational purposes. (Express Illustration)

Express News Service

KOCHI: Assam police on Saturday arrested a migrant labourer working in a plywood factory in Perumbavoor for murdering a woman in the northeastern state last year, once again stressing the importance of the Kerala government’s attempts to create a database of the 30 lakh-plus migrant workers in the state to check the entry of criminal elements.

Saiful Islam, 20, from Nagaon district in Assam, went into hiding after the crime and had been working at the factory for the past year or so. Perumbavoor police were in the dark about the individual until Assam police approached them for his arrest. Saiful’s mobile-phone records were tracked, which hastened his arrest.

The Kerala government initiated the process of registering migrant workers on August 7 after the brutal rape and murder of a five-year-old girl from Bihar by a migrant worker hailing from the same state. The investigation into the incident, which took place on July 30, found that the accused, Asafak Alam, 28, had been absconding while on bail for attempting to sexually abuse a 10-year-old in UP’s Ghazipur in 2018. 

Jharkhand police in April arrested a leader of the banned, pro-Maoist People’s Liberation Front of India from Kozhikode where he had been staying as a migrant worker for at least a month. A lookout notice had been issued against Ajay Oraon, 27, in his home state. Ajay was staying in a camp for migrant workers in Pantheerankavu and was tracked after the tower location of his mobile phone was traced.

Migrant workers from mostly West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Bihar, Manipur, and UP have taken up jobs in construction, restaurants, mining, the plywood industry, salons, and many other sectors. However, experts say it’s next to impossible to create a database of all of them. “Those with criminal antecedents will try to hoodwink law enforcement and attempt to avoid registration. Only those who arrive in the state for a livelihood would volunteer,” says Benoy Peter, executive director of the Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development, which looks at migrant issues. 

A police officer said in most places, employers dump such workers into tiny accommodations with limited or no facilities. “For a person with criminal antecedents, this can be a safe hideout,” he said, adding that the availability of data on every migrant employee will make the collection of antecedents, prevention, and detection of crime more effective. According to data available from police, between 2016 and 2022 in the state, 159 migrant workers were involved in 118 murder cases.

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