No Food, Work Forces Jharkhand Migrant Workers to Return to Cities

Why do resident migrants in Jharkhand want to head back to the cities despite the COVID threat?

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Video Editor: Kunal Mehra

As the coronavirus outbreak resulted in the enforcement of nationwide lockdown, the country saw a huge exodus of migrant labourers who had been working in different states far away from their hometown, just to earn a living.

Now weeks after these workers reached home, they are looking to return to the cities in search of work, despite increasing cases of COVID-19.

“I am a labourer but had to come home due to the lockdown. We are facing a lot of difficulties here. There is no work. We want to return now,” said Atiqur Rehman a migrant worker who returned to his home in Jharkhand’s Godda from Ghaziabad,

More than six lakh migrant labourers who returned to Jharkhand due to coronavirus lockdown feel compelled to go back for lack of food, help and work.
“We are looking to return now. We will be better off there. If we are there we will at least earn our living and have food to eat. Living here feels like we will die of hunger. Because we have no work and even the government is not helping us. Then what’s the point of living here?”
Fagi Rajak, Migrant worker who returned from Chennai

These labourers say they neither got ration, nor Rs 1,000 although promised by the government. The anxious labourers grapple with food shortage, inability to give education to their children and lack of money.

“We were told that we will get Rs 1,000 each but we never got the money. We filled the form online, but got nothing... Three months have passed,” said Jogeshwar Rajak, a migrant worker who returned from Delhi.

Johnson Topno, the state head of the COVID response team for migrants in Jharkhand, said:

“Not everyone has been provided work. Mostly people are working on MGNREGA. We are still getting requests from skilled people who are in need of a job. Jharkhand government is making some modalities over this. It should be ready by next week. After that the engagement with institutional organisations will start.”

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