Militants have targeted migrant labourers in Punjab

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Chandigarh, Oct 15 (UNI) Migrant labourers, a majority of them from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (UP), who have often been described as the backbone of the industrial and agricultural sectors of Punjab, have been targeted by terrorists in the past also.

The bomb explosion in the Shingar cinema complex which claimed the lives of six migrants and left 33 others injured last night is not just an isolated attack on these poor labourers who come to Punjab in search of greener pastures. Two of the four victims who were identified were from Bihar and the other two from UP and they were working in factories here.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and DGP N P S Aulakh refused to comment when asked at Ludhiana today whether the blast was targeted at migrant labourers. ''How can we say anything at this stage'', Mr Badal said.

State Labour Minister Tikshan Sud, who spoke to the DGP, has assured all protection to the labourers from outside Punjab. He has directed his department officials to prepare list of the residential colonies dominated by migrants and forwarded these to the police.

Besides the cinema blast yesterday at Ludhiana, migrant labourers had fallen to terrorist bullets during the decade long military in the border state. According to official sources here, the first attack on the migrants goes back to the mid-1980's when 12 migrants were mowed down by terrorists near Morinda while digging the controversial Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal.

However, the motive of the attack at Morinda was to halt the digging of the SYL. All sections of the Akalis were opposed to the digging of the canal which was to carry surplus waters of Punjab to Haryana. The digging work immediately came to a standstill as a large section of the migrant labourers fled from the area.

The second major attack on these hapless labourers was in the Ajnala area in 1989, when Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) activist Satnam Singh alias Satta Changiara shot dead 16 labourers working at a farmhouse. The incident led to a scare and a fairly large number of labourers from UP and Bihar left the border belt at that time.

Another major incident was the killing of 19 labourers from UP and Bihar near Jagraon in Ludhiana district. The fourth major incident was the killing of 10 to 11 labourers in a factory in Sangrur.

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