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Kerala cops probe canards about migrant labourers

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The Kerala Police is probing who is behind videos urging migrant workers in Kerala to leave the state following the death of one of them, police chief Loknath Behra said on Tuesday.

Behra said preliminary findings showed that the ‘canards’ were meant to portray Kerala in a poor light. The campaign followed the alleged suicide of a West Bengal youth working in a hotel in Kozhikode. A video that has gone viral, however, shows the worker being beaten to death.

Muhammed Suhail, president of the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association in Kozhikode, said that the 26-year-old youth committed suicide due to family issues.

“On Saturday, pictures of the dead youth were circulated on WhatsApp with an audio in Hindi saying he was beaten to death and that migrant labourers should return to their home state. We immediately brought this to the attention of the media and police,” said Suhail.

Behra said the Cyber Police had started an investigation and that district collectors and police chiefs in all the districts would meet and discuss this issue “to instil confidence in the minds of the migrant labourers”.

Another hotel owner said that many of the migrant workers were returning to their home states on account of Diwali. An estimated three million workers from West Bengal, Bihar and the north-east work in various sectors in Kerala, including in the hospitality sector.

On Monday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said a particular lobby was spreading canards about migrant labourers in Kerala.

“A north Indian lobby is trying to propagate a false campaign through the social media against the migrant labourers in Kerala. This is meant to create unrest,” he said.

“The truth is Kerala has extended special schemes for them, including insurance cover for health and accidents. Over the years, on numerous occasions, the state government has extended a helping hand to families of those who died working here.

“No other state in the country has done what we have been doing for them,” he added.

Indo-Asian News Service