Covid-19 lockdowns return, with a change: migrants are now mostly single, male -Karishma Mehrotra

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published Published on Apr 8, 2021   modified Modified on Apr 8, 2021

-The Indian Express

While there is no such official nationwide data, experts note that the migration back to workplaces since the end of the first lockdown has been increasingly single, male migration, leaving families behind.

Ranchi: In February this year, Md Shabbir Ansari travelled with his family back home to Giridih, Jharkhand, and after dropping them, returned to Delhi to look for work. Fired from his job repairing cars in Ghaziabad, Ansari could no longer afford the rent for his family of six at Karkardooma in Delhi.

Speaking to his wife Nahid, over the phone from Delhi, Ansari says he is about to lose the new job he had got in March, working for Ola, as well. The owner of the car has told him to look elsewhere. “Cases are rising again and I’m sitting empty-handed. I am going to come back to Jharkhand in 10 days if things continue like this,” says Ansari, 24.

“We had asked the Jharkhand government for help during the first lockdown. They didn’t do anything,” says Nahid Parveen, 21. Married for two years, she adds, “I wanted to stay back in Delhi with him. Who would choose to stay without their husband? I had just started to understand the city, kya hisaab hai, kya kitaab hai (the basics).”

Now she wants Ansari to make his way back as quickly as he can. “Only we know what it was like during the first lockdown. We don’t want that again.”

While there is no such official nationwide data, experts note that the migration back to workplaces since the end of the first lockdown has been increasingly single, male migration, leaving families behind. As mini-lockdowns again start, this could have a bearing on what happens now.

In Ranchi, at the Jharkhand Labour Department’s migrant control room run by NGO Phia Foundation, volunteers are fielding an escalating number of phone calls from migrants. On Tuesday, two called to say they will be coming back from Maharashtra; on Wednesday, they got reports of 20 construction workers returning from Pune. Head of the control room Shikha Lakra says the cell had records of 16,000 migrants who had returned to their workplaces (of the estimated 10 lakh who came back to Jharkhand during the initial lockdown). “We have seen women were very reluctant to go back.”

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The Indian Express, 8 April, 2021, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/lockdowns-return-with-a-change-migrants-are-now-mostly-single-male-7263532/


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