Editor's Note: The rape of a 14-month-old girl by a migrant labourer from Bihar in Idar town of Sabarkantha district on 28 September gave way to the persecution of migrant labourers in seven of the 33 districts of Gujarat. This incident ignited anger against migrant workers whom the locals believe are the real reason for unemployment in the state. This multi-part series will examine issues concerning migrant workers and the animosity they face from locals.
Alang (Bhavnagar): Gujarat is a prosperous state with multiple industries that need to employ people from across states depending on their skill sets and working abilities. The resentment towards migrant labourers over lack of jobs for locals that led to violence in seven districts across north and central Gujarat over several days since 28 September, was not reciprocated in districts like Bhavnagar, where immigrant population constitutes an important part of the workforce and the economy.
One such industrial unit is world's largest ship-breaking and recycling yard at Alang in Bhavnagar district where business ran as usual while other districts like Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Mehsana and Gandhinagar witnessed violence. Located on the shore of Gulf of Cambay, the Alang ship breaking yard has 85-90 percent of its workforce from outside Gujarat, of which most workers are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
|Workers on site at Alang ship breaking yard in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. Arvind Bhatti/101Reporters.com|
Vipin Chaubey, a labour contractor who hails from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh and leads a team of around 400 workers at the yard, says the attacks on migrant labourers in northern part of Gujarat had no impact on around 10,000-12,000 odd migrant workers of the yard.
Alang ship breaking yard, which is around 30 kilometres from Bhavnagar and 230 kilometres from Ahmedabad, is spread on a stretch of around 10 km along the sea-shore. It has around 160 plots (units where ships are dismantled), which do not remain operational all at once; it depends on the work available. Each of these units employ around 200 workers and currently, about 80 units are operational.
"We are living peacefully here and there is no problem whatsoever to workers or any other person in Alang. We have not received any threats from anyone and no one has returned home from here. The police have also extended their support," Chaubey says.
Viping Chaubey at Alang Workers at Alang ship breaking yard. Hemrajsinh Vala/101Reporters.com
Along the road between Alang and Trapaj, a close-by village on the approach way, is a market for second hand goods taken out of dismantled ships, including catering equipment, furniture, etc. While this business is dominated by local Gujaratis who populate the town of Alang and nearby areas, most of the migrant workers reside in the yard itself.
Chaubey said that even when the incidents of attacks were at their peak in parts of north and central Gujarat, there was no feeling of discomfort in Alan.
"In Alang, no one is bothered about it (attacks on migrants). Although nothing untoward happened here, yet both the Superintendent of Police of Bhavnagar and Deputy SP of Mahuva visited the yard and assured all of us of our safety. They also shared numbers of police officials with us for use in case of any emergency," says Chaubey, adding that the migrant workers were told to inform the police immediately if they received any threatening or provoking messages on WhatsApp or other social media platforms.
Source: yahoo news. 13 October 2018