Shock and fear grip migrant workers in Kovai

A section of labourers, who anticipate loss of employment, feel that arrest would trigger distrust among unit owners and may also lead to ethnic profiling

Published: 08th April 2013 10:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th April 2013 10:34 AM   |  A+A-


The arrest of young Maoist Shyam Charan Tudu from a foundry unit at Thanneerpandal near Peelamedu here on Saturday night has triggered fears of losing employment among a section of the migrant workers hailing from the central and eastern parts of India.

Coimbatore’s numerous textile mills and foundries employ migrant workers from Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal in large numbers for a host of jobs.

Tudu’s arrest in a late evening operation by a West Bengal police team has left his unsuspecting co-workers and roommates shaken. He was sharing a small two-room independent house on VK Road near Thanneerpandal with 17 other co-workers.

“Since last night, we haven’t cooked anything at this house,” said one of the occupants on Sunday afternoon. According to the roommates, Tudu was not friendly with employees in the foundry and mostly kept to himself. Even with those living at the house, he rarely conversed.

“We are surprised to know that Tudu was associated with some police investigation. But still we do not have a clear idea of what he had done. Tudu never used to speak much about his native or any other personal matters,” said Rahul from Jharkhand, who is working with Nithya Industries, where Tudu was employed, for the last 10 years.

Rahul as well as other employees at the house are apprehensive of losing their jobs at the unit worried that they could be linked to the Maoist. Some of them fear a likely ethnic profiling.

Police conducted a preliminary enquiry with all the employees late on Saturday night after the arrest of Tudu to check if they had any Maoist leanings.

“Though we do not know much about Tudu or what he has done, we have a fear that this may affect our jobs,” said a worker Sukumar, also belonging to Jharkhand, who has been working at the unit for 13 years. The migrant workers had come to the city lured by the salary. For a daily shift of 10 hours, they earn from Rs 200 to Rs 350. Sukumar said Tudu had gone to his native place on a two month leave and returned to work only in February.

Apart from Tudu, three other workers staying at the house were also from West Bengal. However, they said that they do not anything about Tudu.

Meanwhile, Leelakrishnan who owns Nithya Industries said Tudu was known to be a calm worker and an introvert.  “We never got any hint that he was involved in such grave crimes,” he said.

Nearly 100 employees are working in the foundry unit where casting of machine parts is done from the 1990s. Migrant workers form a good chunk of the force in the 100-odd foundry units in and around Thanneerpandal.


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