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In Wake of Kashmir Killings, Bengal Mulls Signing MoUs With Other States For Safety of Migrant Workers

State Labour Commissioner Javed Akhtar said though it’s in a preliminary stage, the government is planning to sign MoUs with other states to ensure the safety and security of workers from the state

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:November 11, 2019, 7:19 PM IST
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In Wake of Kashmir Killings, Bengal Mulls Signing MoUs With Other States For Safety of Migrant Workers
Representative image.

Kolkata: Following the recent killing of five migrant labourers from Murshidabad district in West Bengal by terrorists in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district, the state labour department is planning to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with states like Kerala, Maharashtra and Punjab for the safety and security of migrant workers from Bengal.

Every month, hundreds of labourers from Malda, Murshidabad, South 24 Parganas, Midnapore (East and West), Burdwan, Bankura and Purulia are hired by registered and non-registered manpower companies and sent across the country for construction-related work, farming, handicraft and jewellery-making units.

State Labour Commissioner Javed Akhtar said, “The recent incidents of attacks on our labourers in other states are a matter of grave concern for us. Though it’s in a preliminary stage, but we are planning to have MoUs with other states to ensure the safety and security of our workers.”

“States like Odisha, Karnataka and Kerala already have MoUs with each other for the safety of their labourers. Under such agreements, the signees will help migrant workers in case of any problem. This is a very good step and we are also looking at coming up with something on these lines.”

Following the terrorist attack in Kashmir, a large number of migrant labourers have already started returning home fearing more attacks and killings in the Valley. Recently, the Bengal government also brought back more than a hundred workers from Kashmir.

According to existing rules, labour contractors are supposed to inform their respective district authorities about the number of workers they are sending to other states.

They also have to submit copies of their identity cards and address to the gram panchayat, labour commissioner or district magistrate’s office.

“There are a large number of workers who left the state for work on their own or through unregistered contractors putting themselves at risk. Panchayat pradhans were asked to maintain a register of people migrating to other places for job, but nothing has been done,” TMC’s Sagardighi MLA Subrata Saha said.

“Skilled and unskilled labourers from Bengal are free to move to any place in India for work. The proposed MoUs would work as their safety cover. Initially, I think we should have MoUs with states like Maharashtra and Kerala, because the maximum number of people go to these states for work. If required, I will request Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to personally look into the matter.”

On October 29, five daily wage labourers from Murshidabad were gunned down by terrorists in the Valley. One of their friends who was critically injured while trying to escape the attack suffered critical injuries and is being treated at a hospital in Srinagar.

This was not for the first time when migrant workers from Bengal were attacked or killed. On December 6, 2017, a labourer from Bengal’s Malda district identified as Afrazul Khan (50) was hacked to death with an axe before he was set on fire by a civil contractor, identified as Shambhu Lal, in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand village. The accused had recorded the whole incident on camera.

Another migrant labourer from Bengal’s Alipurduar district, Madhu Sarkar (27) was killed at Gujarat’s Ankleshwar area in Bharuch city district on December 24, 2017. Both the incidents had led to a large number of workers fleeing the states for safety and coming back home.

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| Edited by: Sohini Goswami
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