A Mother, a Baby, an Uncle Die During Train Journeys. For Bengal BJP Chief, These Are “Small Incidents”


A Mother, a Baby, an Uncle Die During Train Journeys. For Bengal BJP Chief, These Are “Small Incidents”

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

For many, the special Shramik trains that were set up to ferry migrants back home have been a ride from hell. With reports of passengers being put through long, delayed journeys with no food, or water – neither to drink nor flush the toilets – it’s clear that the woes of the country’s migrant labourers don’t end once they secure a train ticket back home.

But according to the BJP state chief in West Bengal, Dilip Ghosh, the state of the trains — and the deaths that have occurred as a consequence — are merely minor issues.

The BJP MP was quoted as saying on Thursday that the nine deaths that have so far been reported this week on the special trains were “small and isolated” incidents that the Railways couldn’t be blamed for.

“Do train accidents never take place? Do people not die in trains?” he asked reporters.

The remarks were seen as highly insensitive, considering just a couple of days ago, a video circulating that showed a young child trying to wake his dead mother up at Muzaffarpur train station had broken spirits and enraged social media users.

The video was just one of thousands of clips and images that have circulated social media over the last couple of months, highlighting the insurmountable challenge going back home has been for thousands of migrant labourers across the country.

The reports from inside the Shramik trains have, meanwhile, been bleak, with several passengers complaining that they weren’t given any food, while a number of trains were apparently diverted to wrong locations, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away.

One train bound for Manipur was also attacked at a station in Bihar by an angry crowd of men, terrifying passengers who had already faced several long delays since leaving Goa.

It’s been over two months since the nationwide lockdown was announced. With parts of the country now moving towards relaxing the lockdown, we may be closer to flattening the curve, but we’re clearly no closer to doing away with tone-deaf statements from politicians.