Srinagar: More than 19000 stranded non-local labourers are running out of money and ration in Kashmir.
“We are around 400 labourers at degree college Sopore without money. Four days ago, police provided us rice but that is not sufficient. Sometimes we don’t eat for the whole day,” Shahid, a non-local labourer from Bihar told The Kashmir Monitor over the phone.
He said that there are two washrooms for 400 people. “20 people are living in one shabby room and we don’t have enough blankets to keep ourselves warm. We cannot move out as authorities had locked gate from outside,” he added.
Last week, Shahid along with 400 non-local labourers were picked up by the administration from their rented accommodation and lodged at Sopore Degree College.
Another group of 400 labourers is putting up at Government High School, Lasipora in Pulwama.
“We have no money. Sometimes the government provides us food and sometimes we sleep empty stomach. The government has told us to maintain a distance, but 40 people are living in one room,” said Haneef, a non-local labourer from Bihar.
Such is the desperation, the labourers said they will not die of coronavirus but surely will die of hunger. “We want to go to our home and face this difficult situation with our families. They are also worried about our safety,” he said.
Similarly, in Karan Nagar area, there are 15 non-local labourers stuck in rented accommodation without food and other essentials.
Labour Commission data reveals that almost four lakh labourers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and West Bengal arrive in Kashmir every year to eke out their livelihood.
“Last year, they left Kashmir in August due to an unprecedented situation. After the situation in Kashmir improved, they start coming back in February. Almost four lakh labourers would have come to Kashmir by April 15 had there not been lockdown,” an official of Labour Department said.
Director Labour Commission, Abdul Rashid War said around 50,000 non-local labourers have arrived. “Around 19,000 labourers are in Kashmir alone. We are monitoring the situation. We have created seven helplines for non-local labourers in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
War said that any non-local facing any kind of problem can contact the helplines numbers for any help.
“Helpline numbers for Kashmir Division are 8899546373, 7006286174 and 9697977487. Helpline numbers for Jammu Division are 9419805327, 9419211429, 7006382985, and 7889663055,” an official said.