The coronavirus pandemic has given rise to what can be called the migrant worker crisis, as it has brought in poverty and economic backwardness for a large section of people employed in the informal economy. These migrant workers flock to the urban centres from the villages and towns in search of livelihood opportunities but the extreme poverty and helplessness that they were pushed into amid the nationwide lockdown due to the pandemic, compelled millions of such migrant workers to go back to where they had come from.
This extreme poverty and economic strain has pushed a large section of the migrant class into starvation, hunger and sheer helplessness. It is in this context that we can understand the plight of a migrant worker from Assam who sold his 15 day old daughter for Rs 45,000 in order to survive in the absence of all sources of livelihoods.
It is true that the baby girl was rescued by the police but imagine, the plight of a father who had to undertake such a step. This is the story of a migrant worker from Assam named Dipak Brahma who had gone to Gujarat to earn his livelihood but was compelled to return after he became jobless amid the lockdown and was finding it extremely difficult to support his family. It was during these hard moments that his wife gave birth to their second daughter. Their first daughter is now one year old. After trying hard to get a job and failing, he decided to sell the newborn.
He sold their daughter to two women for Rs 45,000 on July 2 but continued to keep his wife in the dark. Later his wife joined hands with some other villagers and filed a complaint against him, the police swung into action and found the girl before she could be trafficked and exploited.
The baby was rescued from the two sisters who had purchased her, who later confessed that they had bought the baby to give to a childless relative. Lakhs of migrant workers came back to Assam amid the lockdown and in the absence of adequate economic packages, they are suffering from immense poverty and economic strain.
The floods have added to people’s economic strains as it has led to the further closing down of livelihood opportunities.