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Lockdown diaries: Touched by love, care, migrant laborers return to Kashmir

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FILE PHOTO


Srinagar: Thirty-two-year-old carpenter from Uttar Pradesh Vijay Kumar returned to the valley after a tumultuous year.

For Kumar, Kashmir is like a second home. When laborers were walking home last year, he was given shelter by the locals for almost four months.

 

“We didn’t face any problem last year in Kashmir. Locals took care of us.  I was even given bus fare when the government allowed migrant workers to return home,” he said.

Enter 2021; Kumar is accompanied by almost two dozen new carpenters who earlier have been working in other states. “When my friends, who have been working as carpenters in Maharashtra heard about the hospitality of Kashmiris, they decided to come here for work. They are now staying in Baramulla and working at construction sites,” he said.

With the arrival of spring season, thousands of the migrant laborers from  Bihar, UP, Punjab, West Bengal, and Rajasthan have made their way to Kashmir.

A source said that the flow of migrant workers is expected to increase given the resumption of development works in the valley.

“The government has sanctioned many projects. They require a huge labor force. Right now, laborers from many states are arriving here for work. We are expecting a good number of migrant workers this season,” he said.

Labor Commissioner Abdul Rashid War told The Kashmir Monitor that the flow of migrant laborers to the valley is usually witnessed in the first week of April. 

“The season for migrant laborers begins in April. So, far, we don’t have any data on how many have visited since they evade registration. I will request the concerned authorities for their proper screening before entering the valley,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner Kathua, Rahul Yadav told The Kashmir Monitor that they conduct nearly 8,000 COVID tests on a daily basis at Lakhanpur toll plaza.

“We are conducting tests of every passenger traveling in public transport. Those who travel in private vehicles are enlisted here. Their details are being sent to concerned districts for testing,” he said.