Sixteen migrant workers — part of a group of 20 headed towards villages in Madhya Pradesh and who were resting on the tracks — were run over by a goods train in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district early Friday morning. While 15 of them died on the spot, one person later succumbed to his injuries.
The migrant workers, mostly from villages in Shahdol and Umaria districts of Madhya Pradesh and working in different companies in Jalna, had started walking around 7 pm on Thursday.
Inspector Santosh Khetmalis of Aurangabad Rural Police said the group was walking from Jalna to Bhusawal, about 150 km away, from where they hoped to board a ‘Shramik Special’ train. “After walking for about 45 km, they stopped for some food and rest, between Badnapur and Karmad stations in Nanded Division. While some fell asleep on the tracks, the others slept a few metres away. A goods train ran over them around 5.15 am,” he said.
Railway officials said that by the time the driver noticed the people on the tracks, it was too late. “The loco pilot noticed some people along the tracks. He honked and tried to stop the train, but failed to stop in time,” said Chief Public Relations Officer of South Central Railway, Ch Rakesh said, adding that an inquiry has been ordered under the Commissioner of Railway Safety.
Expressing grief over the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Extremely anguished by the loss of lives due to the rail accident in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Have spoken to Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and he is closely monitoring the situation. All possible assistance required is being provided.”
The Railways has so far not decided to award any ex-gratia to the kin of the victims. A statement from Railways described as the migrants having “infringed” on the track.
According to Railway rules, anything coming in the way of a train is considered trespassing. “The incident occurred even as the loco pilot of the goods train honked the horn as soon as he noticed the group of people on the rail tracks and also made all possible efforts to stop the train,” the statement by the Railways said.
In the Amritsar case of 2018, when 40 people on the tracks were mowed down by a train, the Railways did not pay any ex-gratia. However, the PM Relief Fund had paid Rs 2 lakh to the kin of each victim.
In a letter on Friday to all its zonal offices, the Railway Ministry said, “There is a need to start a drive to ensure safety in the prevailing situation. The relevant provisions of General Rules. should be reiterated to all concerned so that any accident, unusual occurrence etc can be prevented in future.”.
Later, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said in a statement that the state government was talking to the Centre for more trains to take migrant labourers to their respective states. “So far, one lakh labourers have reached their homes. More trains will be started to take the labourers to their destinations. In the meantime, we are making all arrangements to provide them food and shelter. Migrant labourers should not take any kind of risk and should not lose their patience,” the CM said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines