Hoshiarpur (Punjab), Nov 1 (IANS) At a time when Maharashtra is in the middle of a controversy over the migrants issue, a radical Sikh organisation in Punjab Saturday launched a campaign against migrants coming into the state.
Describing migrants as a 'population bomb', hundreds of Dal Khalsa activists launched their campaign against migrants by undertaking a walk from this Punjab town to Jalandhar city, 35 km away.
Dal Khalsa is a radical Sikh organisation which aims to get a separate Sikh homeland, Khalistan.
The activists carried banners and placards that read "Punjab for Punjabis" and "Return migrants, Save Punjab".
The campaign here comes close on the heels of the campaign launched against non-Maharashtrians by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) led by Raj Thackeray.
Dal Khalsa president H.S. Dhami urged the Punjab government to frame rules and evolve a strict migration policy to curb the menace.
'We chose this occasion of 42nd anniversary of Punjab Day as we thought it was an appropriate day to air our resentment against the heavy influx of migrants. The migration from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in large numbers is unwelcome and unacceptable," Dhami told IANS here.
The migrant population in Punjab, according to state researchers, is nearing three million out of a total population of over nearly 30 million. Punjab's total population in the 2001 general census was nearly 25 million.
One third of the migrants, nearly one million, live in and around the industrial city of Ludhiana and work there.
Senior Dal Khalsa leader Kanwar Pal Singh claimed that the continuous entry of migrant labour would disturb the demography of the state.
"Surveys have found that the migrants working in Punjab are over 1.3 million whereas the number of unemployed people in the state is just 1.5 million," Kanwar Pal Singh told IANS.
Singh cited a study conducted by the Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, researchers last year according to which around 55 percent of the migrant agricultural labourers had settled in Punjab permanently. "This figure was about 11 percent in 1983-84," he pointed out.
Former Dal Khalsa chief Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib even sees a design in the influx of migrant labour into Punjab.
"This is being managed by unseen central forces that were all set to reduce the Sikhs to minority in Punjab itself. The sudden entry of Hindi newspapers and their growing readership in a Punjabi-speaking state within a short span of time has a blessing of these forces," he claimed.
Accusing the migrants for draining the Punjab's economy, he said the migrants were earning over Rs.30 billion per annum and out of it they were remitting two-third of their earnings to their native states, he said.
But Dhami admitted that nobody could deny that migration of labour is a natural phenomenon reflecting demand for manpower. He suggested that states should issue permits to curb unchecked influx of migrants.
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