Patna, (Bihar Times): Migrant labourers and even petty traders from Bihar, east Uttar Pradesh and other states are leaving the turmoil-hit Jammu and Kashmir. Frequent shut down in the Valley due to the economic blockade in Jammu has rendered a large number of them jobless.
It was never so bad for the workers from other states even during the height of militancy, though at times they were targeted and even lost their lives.
Most of the labourers from Bihar who go to Kashmir in the monsoon come from the flood-ravaged districts of northern half of their home state. As they have little economic activities during these months in their villages in Bihar they migrate to Kashmir and other states. Kashmir Valley has lush green fertile land good for both agriculture and horticulture. They require a lot of labourers. Many of the workers are engaged in the urban jobs during tourism and pilgrimage season. Summer witnesses a lot of economic activities in Kashmir Valley, which otherwise remains virtually cut-off during the extreme winter season.
Many of these labourers are just not seasonal migrants. In fact they have come to live with their families to work as daily wage earners. Some of them are even engaged in petty businesses. Now a large number of them can be seen lining up at Jammu railway station every evening waiting for the train to take them back home.
Luckily for these Bihari migrants there is no massive flood in the home state this year. So they want to be back before any eventuality takes place here.
Ironically labourers are fleeing Kashmir when neighbouring Punjab is facing acute shortage of hands, both in agricultural fields and industries. That these migrant labourers are not stopping in Punjab but coming back home suggests that there is something seriously wrong with the food basket of India.
Why is it that the labourers from different states still opt for strife-torn Kashmir but are not going to peaceful Punjab now?
The Kashmir story proves that labourers from Bihar are certainly going out, even if they are not getting job. NREGA is not preventing them from going out in a large number. The only thing is that the labourers are not going to Punjab while they are migrating to all the other states. Is it because of the better wages elsewhere or repeated violation of the minimum wages in Punjab? Or is there some other factor?