UP Bundles the Dead & the Injured in Same Truck. There’s No Dignity in Life or Death For Our Migrants


UP Bundles the Dead & the Injured in Same Truck. There’s No Dignity in Life or Death For Our Migrants

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

The migrants crisis in India has been a human tragedy on a monumental scale. Right from the first day of the first lockdown, heartbreaking images and videos of migrants scampering for food, walking hundreds of kilometres, and living in absolutely abysmal conditions have been doing the rounds of social media. Fifty plus days into the crisis, and the misery for migrants seems to be unending.

In a horrific new incident, visuals of injured migrant labourers travelling in an open truck, with tarpaulin-wrapped dead bodies from Uttar Pradesh to Jharkhand have just surfaced. Uttar Pradesh sent bodies of those killed in the Auraiya accident in plastic bags, on ice slabs that melted, along with those who were injured.

On Saturday night, 26 migrant labourers died and around 30 were injured in Auraiya as two trucks, one coming from Punjab and another from Rajasthan, collided on the highway. Eleven of the deceased were from Jharkhand. The Congress pointed out that the bodies had started decomposing during the journey. Senior Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said according to medical jurisprudence, forcing the living to travel in such circumstances was a “criminal act”. The Congress also demanded the resignation of the chief minister.

Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren was infuriated and objected to victims’ bodies  being bundled into plastic and being thrown into open trucks. He called it an “inhumane” act that robbed both the living and dead of dignity. He urged both the UP and Bihar government to arrange adequate transport.

After the outrage by the Jharkhand CM as well as users on social media, officers sprung into action and the bodies were loaded into ambulances on the highway to Prayagraj.

Politicians did what politicians do best – “tu tu, main main,” with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath blaming the Congress party for that accident, stating that the trucks were running illegally from two Congress-ruled states. The UP CM is also engaged in another tussle with Priyanka Gandhi over 1,000 buses. As migrant workers go through some of the worst times in their lives, not having food, water or accommodation, those in power haven’t even let this moment pass to do some petty politics. Even after 50 days, migrants are still walking on highways, still fighting for food, still looking for ways to get back home and still looking for dignified treatment from those in power and society at large.