The National Human Rights Commission taking suo motu congnizance of mowing down of 16 migrant workers by an empty goods train on Friday, issued notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra and the District Magistrate, Aurangabad.
The incident took place in the early hours of May 8 between Badnapur and Karmad stations in Nanded Division.
The Commission has sought a detailed report from the officers within a period of four weeks. The Commission has clarified that the report must include details of the steps taken by the State and the district authorities to provide food, shelter and other basic amenities to the poor people, especially the migrant labourers, who are facing extreme difficulties and the details of the relief and rehabilitation provided to the victim migrant labourers and their dependents along with status of the medical treatment provided to the injured.
The Commission observed that “prima facie, the mishap can be termed as a train accident as normally it is not expected by anyone that some people will be sleeping on the railway tracks. However, the crucial aspect is that the poor labourers, who were already facing many hardships amid countrywide lockdown, were forced to walk on foot for a very long distance due to non-availability of any mode of transport, lost their lives due to apparent negligence by the district administration. Had some arrangements been made for their shelter or halt during their tiring journey, the painful tragedy could be averted.”
“The Commission in its recent orders passed in different cases has observed and expressed that there is a need for the government agencies to deal with the situation arising out of country wide lockdown, very sensibly, particularly the people belonging to vulnerable sections of the society. Death of poor migrant labourers in such a painful tragedy is indeed an issue of violation of human rights,” it added.
As per media reports, fourteen labourers were spot dead and two others succumbed to injuries later while they were sleeping on the railway tracks when the incident took place. The migrants were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna to board a “Shramik Special” train to return to Madhya Pradesh.
According to report, about 20 workers were walking from Jalna to Bhusawal, which is about 150 kilometers. They stopped after walking for about 45 kilometers to take some rest and fell asleep on the tracks, when around 5:15 AM, a goods train ran over them. The loco pilot reportedly had noticed some persons along the tracks and tried to stop the train but failed to contain the speed before hitting the victims lying on the tracks. The Ministry of Railways has ordered an inquiry into the matter.
-India Legal Bureau