Sitting in a bus Rofiqul Islam anxiously waited for his fellow workers, who were to arrive in Dhubri in a boat from remote char (sandbar) areas in the South Salmara-Mankachar district.

These migrant workers were to leave for Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu for work to sustain their families.

A resident of Nandia village in Assam’s South Salmara-Mankachar district, Rofiqul and his fellow workers are desperate to return to Coimbatore, which they had left following the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Islam said, “There are not sufficient jobs in Assam. The Coimbatore based spinning industry, where we were employed before the lockdown, paid us Rs 500 -600 a day along with free food and lodging facilities.

“I love my state, but have no alternative than returning to Tamil Nadu because I have to support my family”, he added.

Islam’s employer had sent a bus all the way from Tamil Nadu to pick them up at the Jogmaya River Ghat in Dhubri on Saturday.

Rajesh, driver of the bus said, “As the lockdown has been eased, most companies and industries in our state have resumed their production and the employers are trying to bring back the workers from other states.”

“The BPN Textile Company has paid the bus fare of 35 people and will also provide us with food during the four-day long journey from Dhubri to Coimbatore,” said Sofian Ahmed, a migrant worker from Mankachar.

The bus will reach Coimbatore on November 11.

“Local workers charge almost double of what these migrant workers are paid. They are also not efficient, which is why most companies prefer to hire the latter,” Braphu, another driver of the bus said.

Mukesh Kr Singh

Mukesh Kr Singh is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dhubri. He can be reached at: mkdhubri@gmail.com