Lachaiah’s relative had to collect Rs 2 lakh from friends and other labourers in Saudi Arabia to send his body back to India.

Gulf migrant labourers funeral in Telangana live-streamed on FB to show plightImages: Facebook
news Human Rights Saturday, August 24, 2019 - 16:29

A group of women are heard crying softly as men can be seen holding up placards amidst a small gathering. The camera moves closer and a coffin is visible. A body is pulled out and placed on the ground next to it. Soon, several women fall on their knees and let out gut-wrenching cries that pierce the air, even as others can be seen holding on to them.  

This was the scene that played out at Rajaram village in Dharmapuri mandal in Telangana's Jagtial district, which was streamed live on Facebook. It was the funeral procession of a migrant labourer, 49-year-old Anumalla Lachaiah, who passed away in Saudi Arabia. The video was streamed live in a bid to highlight the plight of several people like him.

While Lachaiah died of a heart attack on August 10, his body was brought to India only on Thursday. His funeral has once again highlighted the concerns and the plight of migrant labourers from the state, who face frequent exploitation in the Gulf.

Lachaiah is survived by his wife and two children. Two years ago, he got his daughter married. As his debt increased, he went to Saudi Arabia to find a job and pay them off. He also hoped to give his 15-year-old son a good future and even construct his own house. 

After his death, the family found it difficult to repatriate his body. A close relative of Lachaiah had to collect Rs 2 lakh from friends and other labourers in Saudi to send his body back. 

Speaking to TNM, Goli Srinivas, a gulf returnee who live-streamed the funeral, said that they wanted to highlight the painful conditions of migrants like Lachaiah. 

“We wanted to bring the gravity of the issue to the government's notice. He is one of the many victims who are losing their lives in another country while making a living,” Srinivas said.

The work of migrant labourers is characterised by long working hours and pathetic conditions. Several labourers have alleged that they are not paid on time, are crammed into rooms, and have no access to healthcare. Lack of employment in India and aspiration for a better future have led many youths, especially those from rural agrarian communities, to migrate to the Middle East countries. 

Read: Despair in search of livelihood: The saga of the Telangana Gulf migration 

Alleging that the state government has not paid enough attention to the migrants’ problems, he further added, "There is a serious need for the NRI welfare policy in the state to address this. During the Telangana agitation for statehood, mass migration of labourers to the Gulf due to unemployment in the state was one of the issues cited then. However, even in the separate state, our concerns remained unaddressed." 

“We deserve support and assistance from the government in all forms. They should grant at least Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia to the families of the labourers who die in the Middle East countries,” Srinivas demanded.

Bheem Reddy M, president of the Emigrants Welfare Forum, said there is a need to look into the issues of gulf migrants on a priority basis. He also added that the deaths of labourers are making the situation of the families even worse.

Erstwhile districts like Karimnagar, Nizamabad and Adilabad have been witnessing rampant migration to gulf countries such as United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain in search of better livelihood.

Activists assess that at least 10,000 workers depart from the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) in Hyderabad alone, every year.

Earlier this month, as many as 102 gulf returnees, who were repatriated by the combined efforts of Union and state governments, sought information from the states about the action taken for their rehabilitation under the RTI Act. 

 

Show us some love! Support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.