Post 57, Ludhiana/Jammu/Araria

10:00 a.m.: Shailendra tells me on the phone that he is working at a construction site approximately three kilometres south of Sargana. He is part of a team of workers building a temple. While Shailendra does not know the name of the employer, he tells me he was ‘placed’ there by Damodar Rajak, the labour contractor who allocated him to constructing gurudwaras in Ludhiana.

Shailendra tells me that the project on which he was working in Barmalipur remains incomplete. Moreover, he has yet to be paid for 20 days of labour he had put into building the dome and the screens: the arrears to him amount to INR 32,000.

Shailendra will not stay in Sargana for long, he tells me. He plans to leave for Malerkotla after Holi, which this year is scheduled to be celebrated on March 12/ 13.

12 noon: I chat with Damodar Rajak, who is currently in Sargana. Damodar complains that demonetisation hit the construction market really hard, leaving builders with little capital with which to either purchase materials or pay their workers. All his worksites in and around Ludhiana have had to be abandoned, although he hopes to be able to bag a contract for supplying labourers to Malerkotla.

1 p.m.: Pradeep informs me that his son Sundar, who is currently in Sargana, has delayed his return to Jammu and Kashmir. Instead of returning by the end of February, as he had initially planned, he will now return after Holi in mid-March. Pradeep himself hopes to finish the work on the church within a few days and proceed to Jammu.

Post 16, Bija

7:30 a.m.: Shailendra and Sundar reach Bija, along with three other cousins. In addition, two friends from Purnea have also joined them. He has high temperature, and decides to stay on in Bija rather than proceeding to Balmaripur to start work at the gurdwara there. He tells me he would have left earlier but was informed by their friends here that there was no money to pay them with, hence he decided to delay his return. It was only when Damodar called to assure him that he would be paid as promised that he decided to return.

4:00 p.m.: Damodar returns from Balmaripur to Bija. He tells Shailendra about the possibility of going slow on the gurdwara as the Committee has decided to postpone all construction. Work on the dome for which Damodar had offered Shailendra the contract is likely to commence only in January. Only one labourer is required in Beeja, instead of the five who were working here earlier.

Shailendra’s cousins are now considering other options. Sundar might proceed to Moradabad. Sattan, Brajesh and Indri- the other workers employed at this site- have already left for other locations.