After 2.25 lakh migrant workers register to go home, Telangana puts process on hold

Apart from the volume of registrations, a police official told TNM that the move was to encourage migrant workers to find jobs in Telangana itself.
Registration of migrant worker stopped temporarily in Telangana
Registration of migrant worker stopped temporarily in Telangana
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The Telangana government has stopped fresh registration of migrant workers who wished to return back to their homes amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, from Friday. This is despite lakhs of migrant workers from across Telangana walking all the way to Hyderabad to board the special trains promised by the Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.

The registration for fresh e-passes for migrant workers was stopped on Friday, confirmed AR Srinivas, Deputy Commissioner of Police for West Zone to TNM. Another senior police officer said, “There are already three lakh migrants who have registered, we have to clear them first. If there is an emergency or need, further registration will be done.”

Another senior officer said the move is to encourage the migrants to find a job here in Telangana. “Many of them are getting anxious and the police stations (where they can get registered to go back) are getting overcrowded. Very few trains are running so no point in doing fresh registrations,” the official said.

Migrant workers employed across districts in the state had been pouring into Hyderabad ever since the chief minister announced on May 4 that 40 trains will run daily for taking the migrant workers back home. However, the promise of 40 trains remained unfulfilled due to reasons “beyond the control of the Telangana government,” as one senior police officer from Telangana put it. Several migrant workers had also walked long distances in the absence of public transport to Secundrabad railway station in Hyderabad not knowing that the station was shut. Many had pooled in money paying exorbitant rates to truck drivers to ferry them Hyderabad with the hope of catching a train back home. The government’s decision will put them in a difficult spot now.

However, even before the Telangana government decided to stop registrations, many workers had been finding it difficult to register. Bittu, a migrant worker from Assam who was working as a security guard, stood in queue for a long time in Maqtha, a slum colony next to Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad, on May 6, only to be turned away. “They didn’t accept my registration as I didn’t have an Aadhaar number. They were not accepting my voter ID as proof,” he told TNM.

There were some places though – like the Saifabad police station – that allowed migrant workers to register without Aadhaar numbers as well. Ranjit G, another migrant worker from Assam working as a security guard got registered for a trip back home, though he did not have an Aadhaar card. “The Saifabad police asked me to provide my voter ID card and electricity bill for my rented premises. I even got the text message saying my registration was approved but no news about the trains after that. It has been three days since,” adds Ranjit.

When contacted on Saturday, Bittu, who has been struggling to make ends meet, said he would try to get registered again today, unaware that the Telangana government had ceased those operations.

A senior police officer also told TNM, "This is only temporary suspension of registration. We are also under stress as during the pandemic and and overwhelmed by the number of migrant workers registering. We have to take these steps to stop the spread of the disease." He added, "Also the economy of the state will get impacted if they leave en mass."

On Friday the Telangana government, after deliberations with the rice mill owners and construction lobby, brought 250 migrant workers from Bihar in a train to work at rice mills in the state.

Recently, the Karnataka government had also decided to stop trains for taking migrant workers home. However, after widespread outrage and criticism, Karnataka decided to run them again.

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