Over 134 migrants killed in accidents en route to their home states

Wednesday 20th May 2020 05:31 EDT

As distressed migrant workers continue to walk to their native places from other parts of India amid the coronavirus lockdown, there are regular reports of them meeting with fatal accidents. In the latest incident, at least 24 migrants were killed and 37 injured in an accident in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district on Saturday. Auraiya Additional Superintendent of Police Kamlesh Kumar Dixit said, “The accident happened between 2 am and 3 am on Saturday under the Kotwali police station at a place called Mihauli. A trolley truck, loaded with white putti, was coming from Rajasthan. It had people who were headed to Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. The truck was stationed at Mihauli at a dhaba where people were getting tea. A truck, which was coming from Delhi and had around 20 migrant workers, hit the trolley after the driver possibly fell asleep on the wheel. Both vehicles overturned. police reached the spot as soon as they got information.

With the deaths in Auraiya, the number of migrant workers killed on the roads in the last 54 days has reached 134. The majority of these deaths have occurred in the third phase of the lockdown that began on May 4. Even as the government started trains and buses to ferry the migrant workers to their home states, their numbers remain inadequate. The Centre, meanwhile, said it was the responsibility of the states to persuade migrant workers to not walk, and facilitate their travel by Shramik special trains.

Fourteen migrant labourers were killed and at least 61 were injured in two separate road accidents, on May 13 and May 14, while they were on way to their homes in UP and Bihar, police said. A man and his son were among six people who were killed when an Agra-bound UP roadways bus hit a group of migrants, who were walking from Haryana to their home in Bihar’s Gopalganj.

In the second case in Guna, around 180 km from Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal, eight Uttar Pradesh-bound migrant workers were killed and nearly 55 injured when the truck they were travelling in collided with a bus. The accident took place around 3 am when the truck carrying nearly 65 migrant labourers from Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh collided with a bus, which only had a driver, coming from the wrong side on the Guna bypass road.

A two-year-old girl was among three persons who were killed when a mini-truck carrying around 60 migrant workers from Ahmedabad in Gujarat to UP’s Balrampur met with an accident in Kanpur Dehat. The vehicle had started from Ahmedabad and was on its way to Balrampur district, police said. Six workers returning to their home in Uttar Pradesh were killed and 12 others injured when a mango-laden truck overturned near Patha village in Narsinghpur district of Madhya Pradesh on May 9.

The truck, on its way from Hyderabad to Agra, was probably speeding when it turned sideways on the highway killing five migrant workers on the spot. One of the two workers who was referred to a hospital in Jabalpur later succumbed to injuries. The rest of the injured were admitted to a hospital in Narsinghpur. Narsinghpur SP Gurkaran Singh said it is likely that the workers were travelling illegally. The workers were told that they would be dropped at a bigger city in UP from where they could find transport to reach home.

In Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district, 16 migrant workers were mowed down by an empty freight train on May 8. While 14 of them died on the spot, two of them later succumbed to injuries. The workers, who were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna to board a “Shramik Special” train to return to Madhya Pradesh, were sleeping on the railway track when the mishap occurred between Badnapur and Karmad stations in Nanded Division.

Millions of workers were left without work across cities and towns in India when the lockdown was announced on March 24, resulting in the first wave of workers going back to their villages. Every phase of the extension has seen a new wave - the lockdown was extended twice, from April 14 to May 3 and then May 3 to May 17 and now to May 31. The government, starting May 1, announced special trains for migrant workers, but there are still far too short to meet the demand of too many workers wanting to return home. Some of the workers do not have the documentation required to travel; others have not registered for the trains or buses being run.

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