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Guest workers take out march in Kerala seeking arrangements to go home

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Violating the lockdown protocol, at least 100 guest workers took out a march in Malappuram on Thursday (April 30) demanding immediate arrangements to return to their home states.

The demonstration comes a day after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines to allow inter-state movement of stranded migrant workers, tourists, pilgrims, students and others. Holding placards and raising slogans, the workers took out the march at around 10 am at nearby Chattiparambil Bazaar.

“Less than a hundred workers from other states took out a protest march seeking assistance to go back to their native.states. We used force to disperse them and held discussions and noted down their demands,” said the deputy superintendent of police, Malappuram district.

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He said the workers were demanding transport facilities to move back to their native land as there was no work here. Malappuram district, which falls under the red zone in Kerala, has over 1,500 people under observation and one positive case, as per the medical bulletin issued on April 29.

“They said their families were suffering back at their homes as the workers here were unable to send money due to lack of work during the lockdown period. They said they had food and other facilities here but were unhappy as they were unable to return to their families,” the official said.

Another official said some of the protestors have been taken into custody.”We are investigating whether there has been any conspiracy or instigation behind the move,” a senior police official said.

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Several guest workers had assembled in Paippad town in Kottayam district on March 29 urging the state government to arrange vehicles for them to travel to their home destinations in north India.

However, due to the nation-wide lockdown, the government had turned down their plea, but instead arranged free meals for them at various places where they have been lodged. Presently in Kerala, 3.61 lakh guest workers are lodged in 20,826 camps.

Attracted with the high wages for labourers in Kerala, lakhs of people from the north-eastern states of West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Manipur had been working and living in Kerala for many years.

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