“We are stuck in Madhya Pradesh with our families due to the lockdown. Our employers haven’t compensated us.We don’t have any money. We want to go home. We request the Transport Ministry to help us get back home.”
The handwritten letter was sent to the Transport Department. It came from a remote village in Rewa district where 11 people were trapped, including two women and three children. They had come to work for a stone crusher. They weren’t compensated for their services.
They called SWAN, but we soon realized that transferring them cash wouldn’t help. The nearest ATM was 16km away. We got in touch with the local government. Local government machinery has ignored our calls more often than not. But to their credit, this time it was different. DM responded promptly and positively. We passed on the contact details. Two days later, food arrived for the group, rice rations.
After the lockdown was partially lifted, the contractor and the crusher owner started threatening the workers with physical violence, demanding that they start to work again. They still hadn’t paid the wages already owed.
They packed their bags. At mighnight, they left the village. Local residents drove them to the border 100kms away.
At the border, police helped the families board a truck. After a long journey and long process of getting tested, they finally reached their village.They are now in quarantine in a school in their village.
They are still waiting for their wages from the stone crusher.