Stranded Migrant Workers from Assam Provided Shelter at Karnataka Plantation
PM Narendra Modi announced a sudden national lockdown of 21 days on the night of 24th March. The order took effect from the very next morning. As businesses, agricultural work, constructions and other offices faced a sudden closure the livelihoods of a vast number of migrant workers became uncertain.
People who have migrated to far off cities make their living with daily wages and mostly take shelter in the very places they work. They were suddenly rendered homeless and foodless.
There are an estimated 100 million internal migrants in the country. And as per the government's Economic survey of 2016-17, internal migrants make up about 20 percent of the country’s workforce.
A survey of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization shows that these migrant workers contribute an estimated 10 percent of India's economic output. Yet most of them don’t even have any savings to bank on during these days of lockdown.
Thousands of these immigrants were seen walking along the interstate highways, having packed what little they have of their pots, pans, blankets and most with small children and the elderly, in an effort to reach back to their native places.
In their failed attempts many have lost their lives and many left devastated beaten up by police personnel in the latter's attempt to prevent mass gathering.
In these uncertain and tragic circumstances there is also a section of society that has come forward to help the needy and the poor. One such person is retired Captain GR Gopinath, the founder of Air Deccan.
The retired captain of the Indian Army has hosted around 30 migrant labourers from Assam in his family plantation in Karnataka during this period of extended lockdown.
Talking to G Plus Capt Gopinath said, “I have a coconut plantation and a farm and many people have been working here for many years. Amongst them are fifteen labourers working permanently who have migrated from Assam. Many workers also come in during the harvest season. So, there are also fifteen such workers from Assam.”
A total of 30 migrant workers from Assam, who have actually immigrated to the state of Assam years back but have travelled further to Karnataka for work are now being hosted by the Captain during these times of crisis.
“We are strictly following the lockdown, so they are not working currently. But as they have nowhere to work or go in this lockdown period I have let them to stay at my farm, providing them food and shelter. I have provided them the needful and they are also collecting fruits and vegetables for themselves from the farm and nearby jungles. I don’t want to leave them as at these times they will have nowhere to go,” he added.
Captain Gopinath continued, “I am trying to make their life a little comfortable and believe that by keeping them here I am following the norms of social distancing given that my farm is in a remote area and these labourers do not have to struggle to go back home.”
Many incidents of people opening their hearts and homes for the needy, be it hosting foreign nationals or providing food for the poorer sections as well as the animals, have been recorded not just in Guwahati but across the country. While many people of Assam are stranded in different far off places, away from home and family, stories of selflessness of people like Captain Gopinath are highly reassuring.
It has to be mentioned that there are many people from Assam who are employed as daily wage workers, home guards, securities personnel, office boys etc at minimum wages in different states of India who are stranded there during the lockdown without assurance of proper food and shelter.