Bengaluru: Apartments plan ban on migrant workers

Last Updated : 04 November 2019, 05:33 IST

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The recent crackdown on illegal immigrants of Bangladeshi origin by the Bengaluru police seems to have triggered panic among residents in the city which has a considerable population of migrant labourers.

Afraid of police action and subsequent “interrogation”, several apartment complexes in the eastern and northeastern parts of Bengaluru have decided not to employ Bengali-speaking people, especially minorities, as domestic maids and other workers.

DH accessed internal communication and emails shared among several apartment dwellers in Kadubeesanahalli, Koramangala, HSR Layout, Somasundara Palya, Panathur, Sarjapur Road, Kundalahalli and Tubarahalli limits, about plans to enforce an informal ban from Monday.

Activists warned against the move, saying it would jeopardise the livelihoods of hundreds of families.

Anagha Kulkarni, a resident of Kadubeesanahalli, said there are rumours that Bangladeshi-origin maids will not be allowed to enter the apartment complex from Monday. “We are yet to hear from the association. If it’s true, it will affect several working couples. We don’t know whether this is driven by the BJP government’s stand on having an NRC in Karnataka. The authorities must come out with guidelines as the talk of a ban has led to chaos,” she said.

According to the Domestic Workers’ Union, there are about 20,000-25,000 people of Bengali origin working as cooks, maids and live-in attendants at various apartment complexes.

Apoorva Das, a resident of Kundalahalli, said, “The police recently held a meeting with the security personnel of the apartment and ever since, there has been a lot of uncertainty on the future of these labourers. Of late, police personnel have been patrolling near our locality.”

Maya Khanna, a resident of a prominent apartment community in Panathur, said her neighbouring apartment has banned Bangladeshi maids and labourers from entering the complex.

Condemning such actions in the absence of any official guidelines, Geetha Menon of Stree Jagruti Samithi, working for the rights of domestic workers, termed the move absurd. “Just because someone is a Bengali-speaking Muslim, he/she cannot be dubbed an illegal immigrant and removed from work. If that is the case, what about a similar crowd working in MNCs? Why only target daily wagers? If the government has ordered such a verification, officials must lay down the procedures and we will help the maids prepare for that.”

When a similar situation popped up a few months ago in Tubarahalli, the association, in the presence of the police, took an undertaking from an apartment complex that they will not discriminate against anybody. Geetha said the union will meet on Tuesday and consult stakeholders.

Ruth Manorama, president of National Alliance of Women and recipient of Right Livelihood Award, said, “Trends like this affect the livelihoods of the women who are, in many cases, the sole bread-earners of the families. They also create a law and order problem. This is a complex legal problem that needs to be resolved by experts. Until then, the government must come to the rescue of such labourers on humanitarian grounds.”

Published 03 November 2019, 19:12 IST

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