In a shocking tragedy, as many as 16 migrant workers were mowed down by an empty freight train while they were sleeping on railway tracks near Aurangabad in the early hours of Friday. The workers were on their way to home State of Madhya Pradesh.
The deceased were among 19 migrant workers who had gone off to sleep on railway tracks while they were walking from Jalna to Bhusawal to board a “Shramik Special” train to return to Madhya Pradesh, when the incident took place at around 5.20 am.
The 19 workers had slept off on railway tracks as they were apparently exhausted. Of them, 14 workers died on the spot, while two others succumbed to injuries at the Aurangabad district civil hospital. Three others are undergoing treatment. The workers apparently thought there would not be any movement of trains during the lockdown and the track was secured.
The migrant workers used to work in a steel manufacturing company at Jalna. On Thursday evening, the workers had set out on foot from Jalna to Bhusawal to board a “Shramik Special” train to return to their home towns in twin districts of Shahdol and Umaria in Madhya Pradesh on Friday. The incident took place between Badnapur and Karmad stations of Parbhani-Manmad section of the Nanded division of South-Central Railway (SRC).
“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. Injured have been taken to Aurangabad Civil Hospital. Inquiry has been ordered,” the Railway Ministry tweeted.
“The incident took place even as loco pilot of the goods train honked as soon as he noticed a group of people sleeping on the railway tracks and also made all efforts to stop the train,” a SRC spokesperson said.
Voicing anguish over the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Extremely anguished by the loss of lives due to the rail accident. Have spoken to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and he is closely monitoring the situation. All possible assistance required is being provided.”
President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice-President M Venkaih Naidu mourned death of the migrant workers.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi expressed anguish at the tragedy.
“I am shocked at the news of migrant labourers being crushed to death by a goods train. We should be ashamed at the treatment meted out to the builders of our nation. My condolences to the families of those killed and I pray for the early recovery of the injured,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Expressing grief over the death of 16 migrant workers, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of the migrant workers killed in the mishap. “We are in touch with the Centre to run more special trains to take back migrant workers to their home towns. My request to workers not to lose hope and patience by the delay in the operation of special trains,” the Chief Minister said.
“During the last three to four days, migrant workers have been heading for their native town. So far, nearly one lakh migrants have reached their homes safely. We have planned to send back all the stranded migrant labourers to their native villages. The Central Railway has just taken a decision to send a “Shramik Special” train from Mumbai. My appeal to migrant workers not to risk their lives as they did in Aurangabad incident,” Uddhav said.
Condoling the death of 16 migrant workers from his State, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said: “It is a shock that cannot be described in words. I have spoken to the Railway Minister and asked for a proper probe and remedial measures.”
Saturday, 09 May 2020 | PNS | Mumbai