116 migrant workers killed in accidents since May 1

At least 116 migrant workers killed in road, train accidents since May 1

At least 116 migrant workers, who tried to reach their native villages by walk or by riding trucks amid COVID-19 lockdown, have been killed and over 150 injured in road or train accidents since May 1 when the government started running 'Shramik' special trains.

The latest in the series of accidents, which is at least 27 in the last count, was in Uttar Pradesh's Auriya where over two-dozen people were killed when the truck they were travelling in collided with another in the wee hours of Saturday.

They had hitched a ride on the truck from Rajasthan where they were working and headed to their villages in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal when the tragedy struck them.

This was not the lone accident that took place on Saturday. A couple, who were on their way from Haryana to Bihar were killed when the tempo they were travelling in collided with a truck in Agra while six workers lost their lives and 15 others, including their family members, injured when the truck they were in over turned in Madhya Pradesh's Sagar.

The accidents happened even as Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to states on Friday saying they would be responsible if migrant workers are seen walking through roads and rail tracks. He put it on the states to counsel migrant workers to ensure that they take the special trains.

"More than 30 Indians have been killed on the roads just on Saturday due to gross mismanagement by Modi government. Its ministers didn't have the basic decency and humanity to remember those unfortunate ones, while going on to dish out their daily litany of old jumlas...Event-management is not governance," CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

"When migrants can't reach home safely, Finance Minister is talking of opening up planetary exploration and outer space travel to private sector. Bizarre!" senior Congress MP Jairam Ramesh tweeted.

An analysis of newspaper reports and data collected by three researchers Kanika, Aman and Thejesh GN showed that 116 people died and 159 injured in 27 road and train accidents between May 1 and May 16.

A note prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs on National Migrant Information System on May 16 said 3.5 lakh migrant workers have been moved in 350 special trains so far and more such journeys are being planned. However, the number of migrant workers are much more and runs into millions.

A second wave of movement of migrant workers have started towards the end of lockdown 2.0 in early May as the news of extension of restrictions emerged. The government's announcement of running 'Shramik' labour special trains appeared to have not had an effect on migrant workers heading home. Migrant workers had been moving to their villages throughout in April but the intensity increased towards the month-end.

One of the tragic incidents this month was the killing of 16 migrant workers in Aurangabad on May 7 when the migrant workers who were sleeping on rail tracks were run over by a train. The migrant workers, who were on way to Madhya Pradesh, had slept on the tracks after they felt tired.

On May 13, six migrant labourers, who set on foot for Gopalganj in Bihar from their workplace in Punjab, were hit by a bus while four others were injured. Five workers, who were going from Hyderabad to Uttar Pradesh's Etah, were killed when the truck filled with mangoes in which they were travelling in overturned Madhya Pradesh's Narsinghpur on May 10.