Ranchi, July 15: Anita Marandi, a resident of the Dumka district in Jharkhand thanked Chief Minister Hemant Soren for listening to her plea when she and other migrant workers found themselves in a problematic situation in Kerala. Their Aadhar cards were seized and were even tortured. She expressed her gratitude and happiness for being rescued and decided against going to other states for work.
Like Anita, 32 other migrants and their five children, hailing from Dumka are happy and free. Due to the spontaneous action taken by Chief Minister Hemant Soren and state tribal affairs minister Champai Soren, they were freed from a life full of suffocation and suppression. A joint initiative by the Labor Department’s State Migrant Control Room and PHIA Foundation helped rescue 32 workers from Jharkhand and their five children from Kerala. They reached the Dhanbad railway station today morning, safe and sound. From the station, they are being taken back to Dumka through a special bus, where after a Covid-19 test, they would be taken back to their respective hometowns.
The freed workers had gone to Kerala from Dumka in June 2021. On reaching Kerala, they were sent to work in a tea garden in Idukki (New Woodlands) of Kerala. The workers were kept in a small room. The original Aadhar cards of these workers were seized and Rs 1,000 in the name of their travel expenditure was also reclaimed from them. The workers were promised jobs in the cardamom plantations of Kerala, but they were forced to work in the tea garden. The workers were promised a daily wage of Rs. 400 per person. But due to the difficult geographical location, the workers were not ready to work there. Despite this, they were forced into it.
While working, the workers were shifted to the Peermed Bethel Plantation, Idukki on behalf of the company. The workers were told that if they want to go back, they can take their Aadhar card after paying an amount of Rs 2,20,000 to cover travel expenses. Apart from this, the bus driver there also demanded Rs 6000 per person as fare.
On learning about the matter, the Chief Minister and Minister Champai Soren ordered the state migrant control room to rescue stranded workers. After this, a rescue mission was launched by the Labor Department and the PHIA Foundation. The State Migrant Control Room leveraged video conferring to retrieve information upon the status of these workers.
The team put together by the state to address this issue was extremely proactive. Food was arranged for them immediately after their place of residence was discovered. The Dumka Deputy Commissioner appointed an officer at the district level after talking to the Collector at Idukki. Dumka district administration and the State Migrant Control Room constituted a team in Kerala, officials from CMID Ernakulam, Rural Development Department and officials of India Care were also roped in. The team worked in coordination with the Jharkhand State Migration Control room. Finally, on Thursday all the stranded workers were brought back to Jharkhand by train. Aadhar Card and other necessary documents of the workers which were seized by the contractor have been recovered with support from the local police. The investigation revealed that the contractor, from Jharkhand, duped these workers. Further action will be taken against the identified offenders.