Thousands of Hindi-speaking migrant workers have left Gujarat in the wake of violence following an alleged rape incident, even as industry representatives Tuesday said normalcy has returned after three days of disruptions at factories.
Functioning at industries remained affected for a few days after violence erupted following the rape of a toddler allegedly by a man from Bihar but normalcy started returning Tuesday with units in north Gujarat resuming operations, they said.
Sanand, a major industrial hub near Ahmedabad housing around 250 big and small industrial units, faced disruptions for at least three days as most of the factories remained shut with migrant workers staying away from work.
But beginning Tuesday, labourers started reporting for work at factories, even though 4,000 workers out of around 15,000 employed in the hub have already left for their home states, an industry representative from Sanand said.
"Factories remained closed since the last three days and no production was seen. But from today, everything has come back to normalcy.
"Around 4,000 workers out of around 15,0000 migrant workers engaged here have left for their home states. But that will not affect work in factories much," said Rushabh Shah, a member of the Sanand Industries Association.
Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) president Jaimin Vasa said though normalcy is returning, a sense of fear pervades workers, most of whom are from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
"With proactive approach of the government, especially with strong police deployment, normalcy is returning. The affected workers were scared after attacks, and the sense of fear continues.
"However, with police action, they are feeling secure, and over time, things will become normal," Vasa said.
The GCCI had Monday urged Chief Minister Vijay Rupani to step in to restore peace in the state.
"The Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit (Janaury 2019) as well as Diwali (in November) are approaching. We have urged the government to work together and re-establish industrial peace in the state.
"Around 50 per cent of migrant workers have stopped coming in many industrial estates in Gujarat," Vasa had said Monday.
According to G K Patel, president of Dediasan industrial estate in Mehsana, around 1,000 migrant workers have gone back to their native states.
An industry leader from Surat maintained there is a sense of fear among migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. A large number of migrant labourers work in textiles and diamond factories in Surat.
"There is a sense of fear among migrant labourers and people are apprehensive in Surat. While work is going on normally in textiles and diamond factories in Surat, workers might leave if the sense of fear is not controlled," said Tarachand Kasat, vice-president, All-India Textiles Traders Association.
Surat has around 7-8 lakh workers from north India, he said.
Gujarat-based outfit Uttar Bharatiya Vikas Parishad had Monday claimed over 20,000 Hindi-speaking migrants had fled the state in the last one week after a spate of attacks on them following the September 28 rape of a 14-month-old girl in a village near Himmatnagar town in Sabarkantha district.
The accused, a Bihar native working in a local ceramic factory, was arrested the same day.