Migrant workers flee Pune in hundreds

By V. Vijayalakshmi, IANS

Pune : For Vishnu Singh, a construction worker from Bihar, and hundreds like him, Pune is no more the safe haven it used to be to stay and work in. Migrants like him are leaving the city in droves in the wake of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) campaign “Maharashtra for Maharashtrians”.

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The MNS’ chauvinistic campaign has dashed Singh’s dreams of setting up home in the city with his family of four kids and wife. Now he is arranging for tickets for his family and himself to leave the city as soon as possible.

“I am the sole bread winner of the family, and life comes first. Anybody can harm us, I do not want to take any chances, so leaving Pune is best for us,” Singh told IANS.

Hundreds of construction and factory workers from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Kolkata are preparing to leave the city they had made their home.

According to Pune Railway spokesperson Y.K Singh, 8,369 people booked tickets to leave the city in the general category on Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

In all 15,598 passengers took trains to return to their native places in northern India on Wednesday. Pune Railway Station saw sale of tickets to the tune of Rs.1.5 million as against Rs.500,000 sold last Wednesday.

According to Singh, the trains running jam-packed are the Poona-Darbangha to Bihar, Jhelum Express to Jammu-Tavi via New Delhi and the Azad Hind Express to Howrah.

The revolt against north Indian workers by the MNS has left a deep sense of insecurity among migrants like Singh though the police have beefed up security.

Meanwhile, the reaction among Maharashtrians in Pune over the backlash on migrants from north India is mixed.

Shankar Deshmukh, 56, a painter by profession, says: “It’s wrong, we are one country, such thoughts are not justified.”

However, Sumant More, a government employee, opines: “I fully support the cause, after all Maharashtra also has lot of talented people.”

MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s remarks 10 days ago triggered violence by his party workers against north Indian migrants, particularly from Uttar Pradesh and Biahr, settled in Mumbai.