The unrest among migrant workers languishing in labour camps across various districts in Telangana is leading to spontaneous protests. The state has been witness to thousands of workers coming out on the roads and raising demands like payment of pending wages, and for transport arrangements to reach their homes in other states.
Tasked with multiple challenges in re-opening the economy after a 40-day long lockdown, the state government’s efforts in persuading workers and those stranded in the state to stay back for longer seem woefully inadequate.
On the other hand, thousands of migrant workers have been moving with their families for their native places, hundreds of kilometers away, since the lockdown began. Multiple deaths have also been reported due to these arduous journeys at a time when transport services have been shut down. According to reports, nearly two lakh migrant workers are believed to have crossed Telangana's borders on foot, cycle or any available means of transport over the last 40 days.
On Monday, hundreds of migrant workers at the upcoming Yadadri Thermal Power Plant construction sites in Nalgonda district protested near their labour camps. The workers demanded payment of pending wages and transportation facilities to return to their native places. The previous day also witnessed similar protests in Hyderabad’s Tolichowki, Nanakramguda, Kokapet, Rayadurgam and Gachibowli. Police officials persuaded the workers to return to their camps in some cases, and resorted to lathi charge in others, but the workers’ distress seems to have been left unaddressed.
After the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines to states to allow for the movement of stranded migrant workers, students and pilgrims, Telangana was the first state to deport nearly two thousand migrant workers to Jharkhand in a special train on May 1. Most of these workers were working on contractual basis in construction sites at the Indian Institute of Technology campus in Hyderabad, who had also demonstrated, seeking travel assistance.
According to the state government’s estimates, nearly 4.10 lakh migrant workers are currently located in labour camps across the state. While the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government has been persuading the workers to stay back, and provided food and Rs 1500 per month to each worker, the workers’ still sought to return home.
On Sunday, the state police began issuing permissions or e-passes to stranded students and tourists for inter-state and intra-state travel purposes that attracted a tremendous response with thousands of people applying for e-passes within a span of hours. The facility was soon shut down due to heavy traffic on the website.
Tension at Andhra- Telangana border
Tension prevailed at the Andhra-Telangana border as Andhra Pradesh police stopped workers from coming through despite them being granted permission by Telangana state officials. According to local media sources, hundreds of people are now waiting to cross the state border while the police are waiting for orders from senior officials.
Distressed migrant workers’ protests seeking transport arrangements are being reported across states including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.