Which is the Real Home? UP Migrants in Punjab Speak on Being From Two States

Three migrants from UP living in three different parts of Punjab give very diverse takes on the two states.

Punjab Election
5 min read
Hindi Female

"I came here when I was a young man. It has now been over 30 years. This is home now," says Dev Narayan, a resident of Nawa Kot in Punjab's Amritsar district.

Narayan is one among lakhs of migrants from Uttar Pradesh who have come to Punjab for work. Some of them, like him, have now made Punjab their home, while many plan to return or move somewhere else after saving enough.

With both Punjab and Uttar Pradesh both going to polls at the same time, we spoke to a number of migrant workers from UP who are presently staying in Punjab.

The idea wasn't to find out who they are voting for or who they believe is winning, rather to ask what they felt about the state they are living in, in comparison to where they came from.


We bring to you the stories of three such migrants from UP, living in three different regions of Punjab, belonging to three different age groups and having three very different narratives.

This is by no means an exhaustive compilation of the viewpoints of all the UP migrants in Punjab. But hopefully it may give a glimpse of the very diverse ways different migrants view the two states.


Dev Narayan is now in his late 50s or early 60s and has lived over half his life in Punjab. He has a quirky sense of humour and sometimes it was difficult to understand if he is joking or being serious.

"When I came to this village 30-40 years ago, it was called Chor Kot. But the people here used to feel embarrassed whenever they went outside (laughs). So, they changed it to Nawa Kot," Narayan narrates.

We couldn't independently verify whether the village was indeed called Chor Kot.

When we asked where in UP Narayan came from, he said, "I don't usually like telling people where I came from because now I'm here. I've been here for much of my grown years. So, this is home".

He says that there will be some problem or the other because of being a migrant, but he is largely happy with his life in Nawa Kot.

He also doesn't want to talk about politics and says he'll go with what people generally decide in the village.


He has a strong East UP accent while speaking Hindi but uses a lot of Punjabi words. He speaks fluent Punjabi now.

Narayan works as a watchman at a nearby factory and we see more glimpses of his wit when he talks about his work.

"Shall I tell you the best part about being a watchman? It is that whether a factory is functional or closed, my job won't be affected. Because you still need someone to guard an empty factory."

He says that he has two sons, both of whom stay in Punjab.

"One is a tailor, the other is a loafer," he says.

"Why do you call him a loafer?" we ask.

"If he's a loafer, I'll have to call him a loafer, I can't call him Patwari," he says, laughing.

While we are talking, a woman from the village comes and instructs Narayan to not allow any drunkards to sit in a public building built by the Panchayat.

"I can assure you I won't drink but drunkards don't listen to their own families, how can I control them?" Narayan replies in Punjabi.

The lady leaves, and appears partly amused at Narayan's response and partly annoyed at his refusal to help with the drunkards.



Babloo is 19 and lives in the southern outskirts of Jalandhar. He was born in Punjab and has lived much of his life here. His family is originally from Ballia in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Babloo's perspective is very different from Narayan and he feels much more comfortable in Uttar Pradesh than Punjab.

"People exaggerate differences between UP and Punjab. Look at the roads in UP, they are much better and much wider than in Punjab," he says.

"People just have more money here and they flaunt it more. Otherwise in terms of facilities, UP is no less than Punjab," he added.

On being asked where he got this information, he says that he saw it on social media.

Babloo's family came to Punjab over 20 years ago. His father did odd jobs for some years and the saved enough to start a small grocery shop. Babloo manages the shop in the evenings.

He is much more open about his political views than Narayan.


"I support BJP. BJP is the only party that can protect us in Punjab," he says.

On being asked what he means by "us", he says, "If Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not in power, all these parties would make Punjab into Pakistan."

We asked him what he means by that.

Babloo says, "People here are opposed to whatever PM Modi does. They unnecessarily blocked his path when he came to the state. The farm laws were withdrawn so what more do they want?"

Babloo says he isn't much interested in the election in Punjab and admits that the BJP has no chance of coming to power in the state.

However, he says he is closely tracking the election in Uttar Pradesh.

"I want Yogi Adityanath to win UP and he should become the next prime minister. He would be the ideal successor to PM Modi. He has done a lot of work in Uttar Pradesh," he says.



Ashish Kumar is from Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh and runs a small stall selling snacks and cold drinks in Sangrur.

In his 30s, Ashish has been in Punjab only for the last six years and is a much more recent migrant to Punjab, compared to both Narayan and Babloo.

His view of development in Punjab is completely opposite to that of Babloo.

"The villages here have more facilities than many of the small towns in Uttar Pradesh and small towns here are better developed than UP's cities," he says.

"Look at the bus stands. Even many small towns here have a proper bus stand where people can sit and wait and buses have designated spaces to park. Many places in UP don't have this," he explains.

Ashish says that he is able to send some money back home.


"My family has a small plot of land back home in Pratapgarh where they grow vegetables. I am able to send some money from the shop here. It's not enough and I hope to move to a different line," he says.

Ashish was working in a factory but for many months he was without work during the lockdown in 2020.

As a result he started the stall selling packaged snacks and cold drinks.

His vote is back home in UP and he hopes to go there to vote.

"I wish I had a vote here. The MLA here Singla (Congress leader Vijay Inder Singla) has done lot of work in the area. He has got many things constructed and repaired in the area," he says.

"Aam Aadmi Party is also good. There's lot of support for Bhagwant Mann here, though he has worked more in the villages in Sangrur than the city," he says.

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