Hundreds of migrant workers participated in a unity conference organised by the left-wing Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) at Kannur, to promote unity between workers from outside Kerala and the people of the state.
The programme, titled ‘Ekta Sammelan’, was held on Friday, 16 February and was hosted by the Kannur District Committee of the DYFI.
The event was held to counter the insidious campaign in the social media that workers from other states are behind kidnapping of children. There have been stray incidents in the recent weeks, when people instigated by the hate messages spread through WhatsApp, proceeded to manhandle workers from other states alleging sundry crimes on them.
PA Mohamed Riyas, all India President of the DYFI, inaugurated the programme and said that the campaign against workers from other states is a reflection of some wrong tendencies that are emerging in Kerala in recent times. Workers from other states are coming to Kerala in large numbers due to the miserable living conditions in their native places, and in the hope of building a better future for themselves and their families. The people of Kerala recognise that the guest workers' travails are their own. Such a consciousness has developed as a result of the progressive movements of the state, Riyas said.
Balasubrahmaniam and Babu spoke as representatives of the guest workers. The participants at the programme took an oath to fight the hate campaign against guest workers in Kerala.
Poet Karivellur Murali, who spoke at the meeting, said that the campaign against the workers is a planned move to destroy the inclusive nationalist consciousness of Kerala. The term “atithi thozhilaalikal” (guest workers) has been adopted as it was felt that the Malayalam term “anya samsthaana thozhilaalikal” (workers from other states) gave the feeling of "othering" workers. Groups with communal politics are indulging in the campaign against guest workers. People who forward such messages often do so without realising the intent behind such messages. Our culture, which has been based on fraternal relations, is sought to be destroyed by this campaign, Murali said.