Two Bengaluru Activists Who Helped Migrants Get Train Tickets Booked On Charges Of 'Provocation'

The activists were pressed with the charges of provoking the workers to act against their employers, leave the city and the complaint was filed by the builders.

Karnataka   |   10 May 2020 11:17 AM GMT / Updated : 2020-05-10T17:18:20+05:30
Editor : Prateek Gautam | Creatives : Abhishek M
Two Bengaluru Activists Who Helped Migrants Get Train Tickets Booked On Charges Of Provocation
Image Credits: The Indian Express

Two activists were booked on the charges of "provoking" workers after they tried to help the migrant labourers' book train tickets back to their native states in Bengaluru.

R. Kaleemulla and Zia Nomani who are also members of the organisation 'Swaraj Abhiyan' were booked under sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riots) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code on Friday, May 8.

The activists were pressed with the charges of provoking the workers to act against their employers, leave the city and the complaint was filed by the builders.

According to reports, the organisation has been engaged in providing food and ration to the migrant workers residing at the BL Kashyap Labour Camp since the lockdown was imposed.

Speaking to The Logical Indian, Zia Nomani said, "We have been helping the construction workers since the lockdown was announced. After the Karnataka government's decision to withdraw train services to ferry the migrants, people in the labour camp started becoming restless."

"The trains were halted because of the pressure from the builder's lobby. Centre was running these special trains and here the workers were denied their rights. We decided to take down their names, identity details and file a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) with the High Court seeking the services to resume and ensure the workers return to their homes with dignity," said Nomani.

During his visit to the labour camps, he had communicated with the labourers that the ones who wished to stay back could do so. His organisation would continue to provide them with the essentials.

"We started getting calls from several labour colonies, seeking help. They needed help with not just the food to survive each day but with their payments too. There were financial discrepancies between the companies and builders and the workers had to bear the brunt of the situation.

"First the builders don't pay the workers. Then if the workers wish to go back to their home, the builders try to enslave them. If somebody steps up to help these workers who are stranded without food and money, they file a complaint against them," he added.


A case was registered, however, the Sampigehalli police could not take Nomani and Kaleemulla to the station because the migrants reportedly staged a protest against it.

Later, both the activists visited the police station to contest the charges.

"The good news is, the trains are running again so the builders association could not stop them," Nomani asserted.

However, the organisation is still battling to ensure the workers get their due payments.

Highlighting the poor conditions, the activist said that the workers residing in the labour camps lack access to ration. Also, the people are crammed together in a small space and electricity in such labour camps has been snapped.

"We have helped around 16,000 workers with ration kits. Our organisation is providing 2,000 food packets every day to such labour camps," Nomani told The Logical Indian.

Nomani explained that the migrant workers were desperate to reach homes not just due to lack of employment and wages during the coronavirus pandemic. He said that the manual workers are the labourers who shift from seasonal agricultural work in the rural areas to non-farm manual work in the cities during the lean season.

"This is the season when these workers return to their farmlands for post-harvest agricultural activities. They have standing crops of wheat, vegetables or pulses ready to be harvested. This is a year-on-year trend and you cannot stop their movement as it would impact food availability to their families and the food supply chain in the long run," he added.

Also Read: 'No Testing For Mild, Moderate Cases': Govt Revises COVID-19 Discharge Policy

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