The upset MLA

by Padma Bareddy
Dibrugarh district, Assam

Nearly 500 daily-wage workers from Bihar were stranded in a basti, or settlement, in Dibrugarh, Assam. They were earning INR 300 per day, which stopped as soon as the lockdown started. They were running low on money and rations (since most of them did not have a ration card) and tried reaching out to the government for help. Some officials visited them and collected information, but no support came.

The migrant workers reached out to the SWAN team for support and we connected them with a local Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). When one of the workers called the MLA, he was upset that they had requested help from outside instead of coming directly to him. The worker told him that they had received no relief since the lockdown, and so reached out for help wherever they could find it. The MLA promised that he would send someone to give them the rations.

The next day a representative of the MLA came to the basti and collected their information, once again. They promised to provide rations within two days, but that didn’t happen. When the group called him again, the representative said, “Abhi saamaan aaya nahi hein, aane ke baad dete hein” (The supplies haven’t arrived yet; we will give it to you when they do).

For at least two weeks after this, the group did not receive any support from the government.

With inputs from Leah Varghese and the social media team at SWAN (Stranded Workers Action Network).

Padma Bareddy is a social development professional and a volunteer at SWAN. 

Know more: Read highlights from a rapid assessment survey of migrant workers from North and Central India, and recommendations for the central and state governments to alleviate the situation.

Do more: Connect with the author at padmareddy8@gmail.com to understand more about and support her work.

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