Return of the Nepalese Coal Mine Migrant Workers
The present paper is an ethnographic account of the Nepalese migrant workers living and working in the coal mines in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya. Most of the workers working in the selected coal mining area of the Jaintia Hills hail from Bhojpur district of Eastern Nepal. The paper works on return migration and it argues that, for the majority of the Nepalese migrant workers, working in the coal mines is not temporary; rather an experience of circular migration. Return, here is used as an analytical concept which can both be seen as an imagined and actual return migration of the Nepalese migrant workers. The meaning of home and belonging for Nepalese migrant workers changes overtime. On the one hand, the Nepalese migrant workers continuously complain about the grueling condition of the coal mines and repeatedly insist that they would leave this ‘foreign land’ and return to Nepal permanently and on the other hand, those who already left for Nepal or find jobs outside often return to the coal mines within a few months. Thus, based on multi-sited fieldwork among the a population of Nepalese coal mine migrant workers who move between the coal mines in Meghalaya, India and their core areas of origin in eastern Nepal, this paper gives a detailed description about those who return to Nepal; those who stay back in the coal mines and also for those who experience circular migration.
Key words: Nepalese migration, coal mines, Nepal, return