Before PartitionBefore partition (1947) Mirpur was third biggest city of J&K state and an important trade centre of Jammu province. Most of Mirpuri people do farming for their living hood. People had very small landholdings so they could only grow enough for themselves. It was a very simple life. One has to leave for a big city or get work on the ship to save some money.
At that time this state was ruled by a Maharaja and especially the Muslims who were 80% of the population weren’t offered work, no facilities. Only the Maharaja’s family would get facilities, and our people were only needed for work without pay. People have to go to other cities for work and earn money. Working as seaman on the ship was common job. So with the state of unemployment as it was, if ever Mirpuri men got an opportunity to get on the ships, they went for it.
There were big ports in Bombay and Calcutta and that’s where all the big ships sailed from. People usually go to Bombay, and joined the merchant navy, job was oil all the machinery in the engine room, most of the labourers in the engine room were from Mirpur. Bombay in those days was land of opportunity. Mostly ships in Bombay ports were bound for England.
Some people from Mirpur were already working in Bombay when they came back to their home town they told people that there was work available in Bombay and that there was work on ships. Most of the Mirpur men who come back from Bombay were suited and had good shoes. And they smoked cigarettes while the village folk were smoking hukkas!
That’s how the interest grew to migrate for earning money. People wish to go to Bombay and have a business or do something to earn the sort of money.
It was very hard work on the ships. Type of work for these fresh Mirpuri men was to find a funnel on these ships the size of a large room and to pick up coal on a shovel, raise it to shoulder level in the heat to put it in the funnel. In that heat! Or doing the cooking work on board, that was the sort of work.
When these ships docked at Liverpool, these Mirpuri men could get off for a while just to have a look around, but didn’t return. That is how illegal Migration to England was started by Mirpuri People before Second World War (1939-1945).
To be honest it didn’t really matter whether they were legal or illegal, because anyone that came to England could get work in the mills.
All they had to do was get a pass to confirm that they were going off for a couple of days, and when they got to England, they sort of disappeared.
There was no immigration and things weren’t strict like they are now. They would get a good job and they were crying out for labour anyway! So they would jump ship and start working in a mill somewhere. It was so normal those days. Anyone that went to meet a relative or a friend off a ship, they would end up leaving with them!
To Be Continue…..
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