Assam: Over 7000 migrant workers stuck in Chennai face extreme conditions

Assam: Over 7000 migrant workers stuck in Chennai face extreme conditions

Photo sent by Ghonakanta Panging on 13th May  stuck in Chennai Photo sent by Ghonakanta Panging on 13th May stuck in Chennai

Kishor Kalita, an inhabitant of Darrang, Assam is one of the thousands in the temporary shelter provided for the stranded Assamese migrants in Chennai. He is now placed in Guru Nanak College, an institution converted into a rehabilitation zone. However, things appear more than on paper. Speaking to Inside NE, Kalita said, "There's no medical checkup and we have not been able to maintain any social distance".

Almost 6000 migrant workers are stuck in different parts of Chennai. It all started when there was misinformation about a special train that was to be boarded from Chennai to Assam. Following this, these out-of-work workers in desperation came out of their rented apartments towards the Chennai Central railway station. The police sent them back as they had no tickets. The workers allege that an Assam Bhawan official called them to visit the train station by 2 pm on May 13th. Some had to pay almost a thousand rupees to visit the station. As per sources, that train was canceled by the Tamil Nadu government without any clear reason. Meanwhile, the Assam Bhawan number has been switched off.

The Dilemma

After the cancellation of the train, most of the workers face another situation. The landlords are not accepting them to come back to their rooms in fear of the rapid spread of corona in Tamil Nadu. So far, the Southern state has 9,674 cases with 66 deaths.

In contrast to news reports of the bus taking stranded Assamese migrants, these odd 6000 workers cannot afford that option. Bus fares are exorbitantly high with tickets ranging as far as Rs 9,000. Moreover, the Assam government has not provided any communication from their end. "Some of us can still try to arrange the money but we are not getting any permission from the state government", said Kalita.

The workers were later dispersed into different interim centres from Assam Bhawan and were provided food. "Providing a stay is not the only issue. We might be workers but we watch the news. There's no hygiene here and we can't stay here forever", said Ghanakanta Panging, who hails from Dhekiakhowa, Assam.

Also read: Over 50 migrant workers walk back to Assam from Haryana after thrown out by employers

Ghanakanta used to work as an operator in a holding industry. He is now out of work and without a salary among the many stranded Assamese migrants. He alleges that he was also called by an Assam Bhawan official to reach the railway station for a special train. For that, he had to spend Rs 900. As there was no train, he had to come back to Assam Bhawan and paid around Rs 2,200. He is now out of money. When asked about the communication from the Assam govt, "we are trying to contact them non-stop. We even told our concerns to the Assam Bhawan and spread our problems on social media. Don't the ministers watch the news?"

The multifacted problems

Assam government has been bringing the stranded since the outbreak of the coronavirus but has also requested people to stay where they are unless there's an emergency. But for the likes of Panging, they are fighting a dual fight from the viral pandemic and lack of income. "One of the Odisha guys from my neighbourhood in Kanchipuram got infected and within days, all his roommates were found positive". Responding to the Assam govt's call of maintaining the status quo to its diaspora, Panging said, "we have been asked to stay where we are. But how? Very few have received any money from govt. We are without work and I think we too will get infected soon".

As per some local sources, the stranded Assamese migrants are expecting that railway services to be restored within the next day. A devasted Panging hopes the trains to resume but if it doesn't materialise, he says he will resort to protest.

"We are anyway dying from the virus but now our deaths will be the fault of Assam govt", said Panging.

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Edited By: Admin
Published On: May 15, 2020