Away From Home, These Migrants Call Kerala Their ‘Mini Gulf’

Assam Migrants Kochi
These Migrants work 12 hours a day and their food and accommodation is provided by the employers.

KOCHI: A room that he shares with six others in Kerala’s business capital Kochi is the closest thing that 20-year-old Johirul Sheikh from Assam has to a home for now. He came to Kochi around two years ago with a dream to educate his sister and support his parents. But like most of his friends, he is worried about the floods back home. Last he heard from his family, they had shifted to a relief shelter as flood waters breached their house in Kaziranga.

“We are getting calls for money. There are lots of problems. They have no food, no shelter, they are in desperate need for money. We miss them but we are here because we get paid better. Much better than what we would get back home for this kind of job. This is our gulf,” Johirul, who works as a daily wager at a juice shop, said.

Johirul’s friend, Mohammad Nazeemuddin while putting together a juice rather creatively, said they work 12 hours a day and their food and accommodation is provided by the employers. “But it’s the new arrivals who find it difficult. Sometimes you have to sleep at railway stations or parks, because getting a room isn’t easy. New migrants have to spend few days learning the language before they can look out for a job and till then, we have to feed them. It becomes an extra burden,” said Nazeemmuddin said.

Abdul Basheer is the owner of a small hotel for last 15 years. He said he has found a way of ensuring the hotel functions smoothly. “In my hotel all (employees) are Assamese. Malayalees stick for a week or two and go to gulf. If we give Assamese 600 (rupees), we need to give Malayalees at least 800 (rupees) but they do less work in comparison,” Abdul said.

Ramzan Ali, in his late 20s and one of Abdul’s trusted hotel employees, skilfully makes at least 1,000 Kerala parottas (flatbreads) every day, something not many Malayalis can boast of. He came from Assam’s Kaziranga seven years ago. And gradually helped his school and college friends from the same neighbourhood to reach Kochi and find themselves jobs.

“I learnt the language here… I save around 15,000 rupees and send back home every month. I just keep around Rs 3,000 for myself. I manage to go home once a year for Eid,” Ramzan Ali said.

The Kerala government has decided to provide health insurance to around 30 lakh migrant workers across Kerala. But for now, falling sick is a costly affair.

“I have heard about the health card meant for us but don’t know anything more about this. If we fall sick and take leave for a day, our employer deducts Rs 500. We need to add the medicine cost to all this… It’s difficult,” Shafeek Alam said.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Please don’t eat food made by unhygienic people from outside kerala. Kerala people are clean. They take bath . All migrants dont have proper living conditions and prone to sickness. Not wonder last few years more fever cases are there in Kerala in spite of good health care facilities. So please avoid food from Restaurants who make/Touch food by migrant workers as their living conditions are bad.

  2. Why do you consider the Muslims communities as expats? As long as they are Indians like you and me they are also citizens of India and has equal rights. Don’t look everybody with the bad image. There are some good people who are been criticized because of others.

  3. Bangladeshis finding safe haven in “secular” kerala. As Assamese have started waking up to the demographic invasion and begin to deport them, these folks are now spreading into other corners of the country.

  4. Didn’t Muslims asked for and received at a great cost to Hindus two, large portions of the land as their own country? Then why are there Muslims in India now? It’s time to send all Muslims either to Pakistan or Bangladesh and failing that, send them to 50 plum Islamic nations. Those people do not, I repeat, do not belong in majority Hindu India, let alone permitting any of those backward louts to sully our women. Islam only belongs in the desert of Arabs and not in the fertile, green lands of Hindustan!

  5. well this is very nicely written article and description of their conditions are really great. but basically as i know Assam very well these are bengali speaking muslims illegally settled in the wild life sanctuary Kaziranga. it is not their ancestral village as they claim to be. they were illegally settled there by th eprevious governments. the original assamese muslims have very less orthodox names and these arenot even close to it. So let us appreciate the beautiful place assam

  6. Migration of bangladeshis muslims to Kerala, they have turned demography of state, soon like kashmir mini pakistan will be truth. For muslims its escape from deportation so they work more, pay less but they have to survive

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