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13 Dec 2017

Mamata return call to migrants

Mamata in Bankura on Tuesday. Picture by Sujata Khan 
TT, Calcutta : Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday cited Afrajul Khan's grisly murder in Rajasthan and promised support and opportunities for migrant labourers from Bengal if they felt unsafe in other states and wanted to come back.
The Opposition has claimed people have to leave Bengal as there are few jobs at home, but Mamata sidestepped the question and instead underscored the alleged lack of safety in other states.
The Trinamul chief was addressing a government event in Purulia when she referred to the murder of Khan - a migrant labourer from Malda, hacked to death and burnt in Rajasthan's Rajmasand - and alleged that minorities and Dalits are being tortured in states like Rajasthan and Gujarat, both ruled by the BJP.
"People from Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh...so many states...come to Bengal, work here and make it their home. They never face any problems. People from Bengal also go to other states for work.... If my brothers and sisters from Bengal feel unsafe elsewhere, they are free to come back. We will get them work here. I don't want them to face danger elsewhere."
The chief minister said Rs 50,000 had been given by her government as one-time aid to more than a lakh people when they had come back to Bengal after losing work elsewhere after demonetisation.
The Congress and the BJP have cited Khan's murder to claim workers like him were driven out by the lack of jobs in Bengal.
Senior state officials said more than 2 lakh people from districts like Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia were working outside the state. An unskilled construction labourer gets Rs 250-300 daily in north Bengal compared with Rs 500 in Kerala, where they are also offered free lodging. Sources in Malda said Khan used to make Rs 32,000 a month in Rajasthan but would not have earned more than Rs 10,000 at home.
Economists echoed the job worry. "There is a serious job problem in Bengal because of which people are looking outward for greener pastures," said Subhanil Chowdhury of the Institute of Development Studies, Calcutta.
Kerala death
The body of Bankura native Hemanta Roy, 23, was found with his throat slit at Alappuzha in Kerala, with police claiming suicide. Bankura SP Sukhendu Heera said Kerala police would be asked to start a murder case if foul play was found.

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