This is a translation of a Bengali news article on one of AID’s partners and his work during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Lockdown Warrior Motiur
His usual habit is to be passionate in work that has no monetary remuneration, as goes the idiom in Bengali, “Gharer kheye boner mosh taaraano” (eating at home only to drive wild buffaloes). A commerce graduate in his mid-forties, this man has become a lockdown warrior for migrant workers trapped in different states, for the last two months. Armed with a smart phone and unabated willpower, he is literally fighting across the country with the states of Punjab, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Manipur and Gujarat.
Since the night of 24th March, when the countrywide lockdown was declared, Motiur started receiving desperate calls from migrant labourers across the country at his home in Jadupur Village of Murshidabad district, West Bengal. From then on he started to call and write emails to the district and state level administration with the names, addresses and phone numbers of the trapped migrants of Murshidabad in various other states.
Motiur says, “The superintendent of police Y Rajbanshi of Jangipur had taken exemplary humanitarian steps to arrange food for the migrant labourers starving in different states. But no other administrative help arrived except that.” Motiur created 65 whatsapp groups connecting 2000 migrant labourers trapped in various places. He said, “Owing to the dedicated efforts of the police super Y Rajbanshi, 500-600 labourers got their food arranged.” For the rest of the migrants, Motiur connected his previously known contacts of AID India, its Kolkata representatives Somnath Chattopadhyay and Partha De and others. With this financial help, their food could be arranged. He said, “The migrants are now crying to return home and some have gone into mental depression.”
Moti comes from a well to do farmer family. In 2009 he noticed that tribal women were being forced to work in the fields in adjoining villages while 7-8 months pregnant, due to their abject poverty. Moti trained them in needlework. He procured 7 sewing machines for them, with the support from the then district judge Shyamal Kumar Gupta and the Cotton Research Center scientist Sandip Kumar Dutta. In this way he learnt the ABCs of social work. In 2014 he got involved to solve the problems of the transgender community.
In 2015 he came to know that migrant workers of the Karnasuvarna region of Bengal had got stuck in Saudi Arabia. He then drove a field study with students of Netaji Open University and found out that one in every three families of Rangamati Gram Panchayat had a member working in the middle east for a living. Many of them had been cheated there at work. With the help of erstwhile Police Superintendent of Murshidabad Sri Rahul Srivastav he brought back many such cheated labourers from the middle east alive and some dead.
Today, however, Motiur’s sadness is that he could not ensure the return of most of the trapped migrant labourers from other states before Eid.
AID is proud to be associated with mockdown warrior Motiur! Please help us support his unrelenting efforts.AID Responds to COVID Donate to COVID Relief Fund