The absence of adequate financial planning and discriminated partiality to help poor migrant workers has led to the tragic death of 16 people yesterday.
Due to lockdown, non-transport availability, and out of hunger, we saw thousands of migrant workers walking 100s of kilometers to reach their homes. It was in the news all over and lately, the central government arranged trains for the migrant workers to travel back. Many of them utilized it, but those who already started their journeys on foot, what about them? They haven’t heard the news, but kept on walking.
Yesterday, sixteen tired migrant workers sleeping on railway tracks during a long walk home were crushed to death by a goods train in Maharashtra. It clearly indicates the denial and negligent of the government towards the poor migrants.
Three of the four survivors from the Madhya Pradesh-bound group of 20 had seen the approaching train and tried to alert the rest, but they were perhaps too exhausted from their overnight walk to wake up, officers said.
One of the survivors of the 5.15am accident, which took place near Karmad, around 30km from Aurangabad town, is injured.
The labourers, who worked in a steel plant in Jalna, about 36km from Karmad, had begun their journey at 7pm on Thursday, railway officials said quoting the survivors. After daybreak on Friday, they decided to sleep off their fatigue.
Most of them lay down on the tracks while three decided to rest on a nearby plot of level ground, Aurangabad district police chief Mokshada Patil said.
“After some time, these three saw a goods train coming and immediately raised the alarm but it went unheard,” she added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed anguish and said all possible assistance was being provided.
Rahul Gandhi asked why migrants were continuing to walk home and said:
“We should be ashamed of treating the nation-builders like this.”
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted: “The death of these poor labourers is solely due to the sudden announcement of a lockdown and denial of transport to them for weeks, while not providing a substantive relief package. It is criminal what has been done to them by the Central govt.”
A widely circulated video clip from the scene of tragedy shows mutilated bodies lying on the tracks, with the workers’ meagre belongings scattered all around.
While some officers said the labourers had intended to walk all the way to Madhya Pradesh, Jalna superintendent of police S. Chaitanya claimed they had planned to walk to Aurangabad and catch a train from there.
Like many other returning migrant workers, the group was walking along the tracks apparently to escape police attention. The trains and buses some states have arranged to ferry migrant labourers home have been too few for a tribe whose numbers run into millions.
Chaitanya said the migrant labourers had begun their journey without informing their employer or the local administration.
But one of the survivors, Virender Singh, said they had set off on the journey home after waiting for weeks for their contractor to bail them out with a bit of cash. “Our families in the villages were asking us to come back,” he said.
Chaitanya said the Jalna administration was running a shelter camp for migrant labourers, but the victims were staying on the premises of the factory where they worked.
The SP said the group members were aged between 20 and 35.
“The train was carrying empty petroleum containers and was on its way to Panewadi in Manmad tehsil. After the accident, it was halted at the next station,” a railway official said.
Another official said the bodies would be taken to Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, by train from Aurangabad.
Shailesh Pathak, the chief commissioner of railway, has written to the Railway Board chairman seeking instructions to ensure such accidents do not recur. The railways have announced a probe.
Shiv Sena minister Sandipan Bhumre and MLA Ambadas Danve met the injured in a hospital here.
“The state government is making efforts to send migrant workers to their home states. People should have patience,” Danve said.
a goods train ran over the several migrants who were
returning their home
incident Happened around 5:15 AM in #Aurangabad
this is the result of lack of the planning
heart goes with their families god give strenth to them in this time of adversity#TrainAccident pic.twitter.com/MX8EOukfSg
— krishnakant sharma (@dehaati_ladka) May 8, 2020
The Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments have separately announced Rs 5 lakh for the families of each of the dead.
The survivors have been identified as Inderlal Dhurve (20, Mandla district), Virendrasingh Gaur (27, Umaria district), Shivman Singh Gaur (27, Shahdol district) and the injured Sajjan Singh (Khajeri district).
15 migrant labourers crushed to death by a train in #Aurangabad
Government despite knowing the fact that people want to return to their home are not taking any action but the same are bringing people from outside India,
Doesn't makes sense to me#TrainAccident pic.twitter.com/2ZQxArlL8P
— Vijay Jaiswal (@puntasticVU) May 8, 2020
The deceased include Dhansingh Gond, Nirlesh Singh Gond, Buddharaj Singh Gond, Rabendra Singh Gond, Rajbohram Paras Singh, Dharmendra Singh Gond, Shreedayal Singh, Suresh Singh Kaul, Santosh Napit, Brijesh Bheyadin (all Shahdol district), Bigendra Singh, Pradeep Singh Gond, Nemshah Singh, Munim Singh (all Umaria district) and Acchelal Singh (district unknown).
One of the dead is yet to be identified.