By Arré Bench May. 08, 2020
Desperate to go home, migrant workers were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna for hours to catch a “Shramik Special” train to return to Madhya Pradesh. Exhausted, they fell asleep on the railway tracks when the mishap occurred.
There seems no light at the end of this dark tunnel for India’s poor. On Friday, 16 migrants were killed and five others injured after they were run over by a goods train in Aurangabad on Friday morning while returning to their rural homes in Madhya Pradesh. The workers had been walking for hours and exhaustion forced them to sleep on the tracks, an official said. They were run over by a goods train between Jalna and Aurangabad at around 5.15 a.m.
BREAKING: Goods train runs over 15 migrant workers in #Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Accident occurred between Jalna and Aurangabad of Nanded division
— DD News (@DDNewslive) May 8, 2020
The men worked at an iron factory in Maharashtra’s Jalna and were planning to walk to Bhusawal, which is a distance of 157 kilometres, to catch a “Shramik Special” train to return to Madhya Pradesh.
Heartbreaking images from the scene of the accident show personal belongings of the workers – footwear, bunch of rotis – scattered on the tracks.
— Deep Halder (@deepscribble) May 8, 2020
17 migrant workers killed in train accident in Maharashtra
While walking 45 km from Jalna area of Aurangabad to Pusawal area, the train crashed on the railway workers.#ModiGovtFailedLockdown #ModiGovtFailsIndia pic.twitter.com/JHZ6Y7nGN4
— അപ്പൂ🔟⭐️ (@apn_10) May 8, 2020
The Railway Ministry said that the injured were taken to Aurangabad Civil Hospital and an inquiry had been ordered into the incident. The survivors who are in shock are being counselled by the police.
During early hours today after seeing some labourers on track, loco pilot of goods train tried to stop the train but eventually hit them between Badnapur and Karmad stations in Parbhani-Manmad section
Injureds have been taken to Aurangabad Civil Hospital.
Inquiry has been ordered
— Ministry of Railways (@RailMinIndia) May 8, 2020
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced ₹5 lakh each as compensation to next of kin of the deceased in the Aurangabad mishap.
मुख्यमंत्री उद्धव बाळासाहेब ठाकरे यांनी संभाजीनगर(औरंगाबाद) जवळील करमाड येथे सटाणा शिवारात मालवाहू रेल्वेखाली येऊन परराज्यातील १६ मजुरांच्या झालेल्या मृत्यूबद्दल तीव्र दू:ख व्यक्त केले असून मृतांच्या कुटुंबियांना मुख्यमंत्री सहाय्यता निधीतून प्रत्येकी ₹ ५ लाख मदत जाहीर केली आहे.
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) May 8, 2020
Through a series of tweets, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan requested migrants to not leave cities, stating they had made proper arrangements to ferry everyone home. “I was always with you, am, and will be. Wherever you are, please do not walk on foot and contact us as soon as possible,” he said.
ये पूरी प्रक्रिया लगातार जारी है। इस में थोड़ी देर लग सकती है लेकिन हम सब को वापिस लाएँगे। धैर्य रखे और मुझ पर भरोसा रखे। मैं हमेशा आप के साथ था, हूँ, और रहूँगा।
आप जहां हो वहीं रहे, कृपया पैदल चल कर न आए और हम से जल्द से जल्द सम्पर्क करे। https://t.co/D5T3IB9drh
— Shivraj Singh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) May 8, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his anguish at the loss of lives due to the rail accident in Aurangabad. “Have spoken to Railway Minister Shri Piyush Goyal and he is closely monitoring the situation. All possible assistance required is being provided,” he tweeted. President Ramnath Kovind too expressed his grief, stating he was saddened beyond words and offered his thoughts and prayers to the bereaved families.
Extremely anguished by the loss of lives due to the rail accident in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Have spoken to Railway Minister Shri Piyush Goyal and he is closely monitoring the situation. All possible assistance required is being provided.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 8, 2020
But the condolences feel like empty promises. India’s political class has failed its migrants. States have not been able to accommodate them and the Centre has been unable to provide any relief.
Journalist Barkha Dutt pointed out that walking migrants have been India’s Invisible, and the Aurangabad incident is merely a manifestation of the margins they’ve lived on.
For 53 days we've been walking with migrant workers on their journey home. They have remained India's Invisible, their despair caught in images like these as they chase after a truck. The #Aurangabad accident is a manifestation of margins theyve lived on https://t.co/k2YYcoN6oH
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) May 8, 2020
As mass evacuation operations begin to get back stranded Indians from across the world on special flights, journalist Rajdeep Sardesai asked a very relevant question, “Gareeb ki koi sunvayi hai ya nahi?”
If this news doesn’t shake our national conscience, nothing will.. absolutely devastating. Heart goes out to all families of the dead workers: गरीब की कोई सुनवाई है या नहीं? . #Aurangabad https://t.co/9lQba7p15b
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) May 8, 2020
When trains are denied to migrants, what choice are they left with but to walk home.
You deny them trains. Tell them trains are not running.
Then, a train runs over them.https://t.co/8YvVl2GCVg
— Supriya Sharma (@sharmasupriya) May 8, 2020
Some described the mishap as an humanitarian disaster, stating that migrants are walking because adequate train arrangements have not been made and tickets are being charged. Labourers sleep on roads and railway tracks because they have no money to afford lodging places.
Migrant Workers Deaths are MURDER BY MODI Govt
Labourers, like the #Aurangabad ones, are walking home bcos of no train arrangements & tickets are charged
Labourers sleep on roads & rail tracks bcos they dont have money for lodging
Migrant Exodus is a huge humanitarian disaster
— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) May 8, 2020
The lockdown then seems like a bigger threat to migrants than the pandemic. As per data compiled by the SaveLIFE Foundation, the country recorded more than 600 road accidents during the two phases and 30 per cent of road crash victims were migrants going back home. Hundred and forty lives have been lost during the last five weeks due to road crashes and over 100 deaths have been recorded across nine states alone, including Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu.
— The Quint (@TheQuint) May 7, 2020
The shock, horror, pain and grief keeps piling on for the marginalised sections. And they just become another statistic in India’s ongoing migrant crisis.