Friday marks a week since the Aurangabad tragedy on 8 May, when 16 migrant workers were killed when a goods train ran over them. A group of 21 people — all trying to walk home to Madhya Pradesh — had slept on or near the tracks because they were exhausted from their journey.
The incident created an uproar, with people criticising the government for its ill-planned lockdown which left thousands of workers stranded in different states without food or work.
Since then, many have taken desperate measures to get home in the absence of normal transport options. Some have walked, others have cycled thousands of kilometres on highways across states to get to their destinations.
The government finally announced special trains at the end of April to ferry the migrant workers back home, but the number has just not been enough to meet the demand. So thousands still continue to make the journey back home on foot, putting their lives in danger, because they have no other choice.
And in the week since the Aurangabad accident, migrant workers have been killed almost every day in road accidents, some of them just hours away from their destination.
These deaths are sad reminders about the lack of value and dignity of life accorded to the people on whose labour the lives and leisure of the privileged class is balanced.
Here’s a rundown of the deaths reported in just the week after the Aurangabad train tragedy.
6 killed in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday night
On Friday morning, NDTV reported that six migrant workers were killed in three separate incidents in Uttar Pradesh the previous night while they were just hours away from their destination.
Three workers were killed in a road accident in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki, the report said. They were just 100 km from their hometown and had been traveling from Gujarat. Four others sustained injuries and were taken to a hospital in Lucknow.
Two people died in Jalaun, while a migrant worker died in Bahraich when the truck he was travelling in overturned.
14 killed in MP, UP on Wednesday night
On Thursday two major accidents killing 14 migrant workers were reported from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
PTI reported that eight migrant workers were killed and nearly 50 others injured, when a bus in which they were traveling collided with a truck near Guna town in Madhya Pradesh.
The accident took place between 3 am and 4 am. The workers were on their way to the Uttar Pradesh border from Maharashtra.
In another incident, police said that six migrant workers were killed and five seriously injured after they were run over by a Uttar Pradesh state transport bus in Muzaffarnagar.
4, including infant, killed in 2 separate accidents on Tuesday
Three migrant labourers and an infant girl were killed and 46 injured in two road accidents when they were returning home to Uttar Pradesh from other states, officials told PTI on Wednesday.
A truck carrying a group of 54 migrant labourers and their families from Ahmedabad in Gujarat to Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh rammed into a stationary truck near Lalpur police post on Kanpur-Jhansi highway, killing three people and injuring 43 others.
Superintendent of Police (Kanpur Dehat) Anurag Vats said, “The deceased persons have been identified as Rohit (25), Hiraman (50) and Sumaiyya (2), all residents of Balrampur.“
The injured were admitted to the district hospital, while eight of them were in a critical state and were referred to the Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital in Kanpur.
Meanwhile, a migrant worker who was cycling home from Chhattisgarh to Uttar Pradesh died after being hit by a truck in Chitrakoot.
Police said that Mohan (44) was a resident of Saharanpur. He was traveling with three other people. They had stopped on the roadside near Kalchiha village in Chitrakoot to take rest when they were hit by a speeding truck.
All four were injured in the accident and taken to a community health centre in Mau village, where Mohan died.
Telangana migrant worker dies, 20 injured on Tuesday
Sudesh Ram, a 32-year old migrant labourer, died and 20 others were injured on Tuesday when the truck they were traveling in turned turtle in Telangana’s Kamareddy district.
The News Minute reported that the 21 people were travelling from Hyderabad to Jharkhand’s Garhwa district.
Migrant worker killed in hit-and-run incident in Ambala in Tuesday
Ashok, from Bihar’s Purnia, was killed and his companion Pinku injured on Tuesday when a Toyota Innova ran over them on the Ambala-Saha National Highway 444A, Hindustan Times reported.
They were both working as daily wage labourers, the police told the newspaper. The police said that Ashok was in his early 40s.
11 deaths reported from accidents, fatigue over Saturday and Sunday in MP
PTI reported that 11 migrant labourers died and 14 were injured in the 24 hours till Sunday in separate incidents such as fatigue due to walking long distances and a road accident in four districts in Madhya Pradesh, police said on Sunday.
The deaths were reported from Narsinghpur, Barwani, Sagar and Shajapur districts.
Almost all the deceased were travelling to Uttar Pradesh from Maharashtra, Hyderabad and Karnataka amidst the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the report said.
Additional Superintendent of Police Rajesh Tiwari told PTI that in Narsinghpur district, six migrant labourers were killed and 14 others injured, one of them seriously, when the truck in which they were travelling overturned near Patha village, around 40 kms from the district headquarters on Saturday night.
The victims were headed towards Jhansi, Etah and Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh from Hyderabad in Telangana, he added.
“While five labourers died on the spot, two critically injured were rushed to a hospital at divisional headquarters Jabalpur- for treatment, where one of them died around 6 pm on Sunday,” Tiwari added.
Thirteen others, who suffered injuries in the accident, including the truck driver, are undergoing treatment at the (Narsinghpur) district hospital. They have been quarantined, he said.
In Barwani district, three migrants, who began their journey on foot from Mumbai to Uttar Pradesh, died due to exhaustion on Saturday afternoon near Sendhwa, located on the Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra border, police said. Two more deaths were reported from Sagar and Shajapur.
“A doctor at Sendhwa civil hospital, where two of the three labourers were taken, said dehydration and fatigue due to scorching heat might have led to a heart attack.”
The deceased trio in Barwani were aged between 42 and 55 years, an official said.
A doctor at Sendhwa civil hospital, where two of the three labourers were taken, said dehydration and fatigue due to scorching heat might have led to a heart attack.
A labourer walking towards UP from Karnataka also died in Sagar. He collapsed on the ground by the Sagar-Kanpur national highway on Saturday evening, police said, adding that he was declared dead at a hospital, an official said.
“As per his Aadhaar card, the deceased was identified as Rambali (31), a resident of Siddharthnagar district in Uttar Pradesh,” Sagar Superintendent of Police Amit Sanghi said, adding that the family of the deceased has been informed.
Another labourer, who died in Shajapur district on Saturday evening, was identified as Ramroop (35), police said, adding that he was returning to his hometown in Basti district of UP on a mini truck from Maharashtra when he took ill.
One killed in Kerala on Sunday
On Sunday, Safikul Sheikh — a worker in Kerala from Bengal’s Murshidabad district — was killed in a road accident when he went out to the market in Kerala, reported Hindustan Times.
Sheikh’s friends said he wanted to go home before Eid.
The report did not specify where in Kerala the incident took place.
One killed in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday
On Saturday in Uttar Pradesh, 26-year-old Sagheer Ansari died on a 1,000-km journey home. Like Bhuyia, Ansari had set out from Delhi along with seven friends to reach his home in Bihar’s East Champaran district, reported NDTV. When they stopped to eat breakfast, sitting on a road divider in the morning, Ansari was run over by a car. He died in a hospital.
Migrant worker run over in West Bengal on Sunday
A 35-year-old migrant labourer, Fuldev Bhuyia, was run over by a vehicle in West Bengal’s Durgapur on Saturday. Bhuyia, a mason who worked in Kolkata, was traveling towards the Kesarchepa village in Jharkhand’s Chatra district — his home, The Indian Express reported.
He had bought a bicycle for Rs 500 and set out with two others on May 6, but got separated on the way.
Bhuyia’s wife Tetri Devi was quoted in the report as saying, “There were three of them… some problem occurred with some villagers in West Bengal. They were chased… all three got separated and he walked alone and died.”
(with PTI inputs)