28 February, 2021

Despite Odds, Why Barpeta’s Ashadul Ali Must Return To Cities

Floods in Assam have swept away opportunities and young folks like Ashadul Ali are wrecked by growing unemployment

Ashadul Ali with his mother at his village in Assam’s Barpeta district
Despite Odds, Why Barpeta’s Ashadul Ali Must Return To Cities

It’s the season of reverse migration—streams of workers on India’s highways, walking from cities towards destinations thousands of miles away under a brazen sun, each passing day bringing diminished hope. Or crowds hitching rides in trucks, clambering on to buses, praying for a seat in a ‘shramik special’ train. Victims of the nationwide lockdown, many migrant workers vowed never to return to heartless metros that made destitutes of them in a trice.

But, as with every endeavour, there are those who run against the tide. Ashadul Ali, 19, from Assam’s Barpeta, worked in Bangalore and is desperate to get back. “I came home as everyone else was rushing back in a panicked state. Now, what will I do to survive?” Ashadul tells Outlook sitting on an embankment near Beki, a major tributary of the Brahmaputra.   

Ashadul, who has worked in a tent house in Bangalore for almost a year now, is not the only one from his neighbourhood to earn his livelihood in Bangalore. Fifteen other youths, he says, shifted to...

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