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Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Aurangabad train mishap: As bodies arrive, kin say victims exploited, driven to desperation

The family members of five of the victims, from Umaria district, blamed a labour contractor for driving them to the edge. They said he did not give them money when they asked for, and instead gave them a bank account number.

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Bhopal | Updated: May 10, 2020 7:24:19 am
Aurangabad train mishap, Aurangabad train accient, Aurangabad migrants run over by train, migrants killed in rail accident, india lockdown, migrant workers, India lockdown, coronavirus cases, Indian express news The 16 migrant workers were run over by a goods train early Friday morning when they were sleeping on the tracks.

As the bodies of 16 migrant workers from Madhya Pradesh, who were run over by a train in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad, reached their villages Saturday, their relatives said they had asked the victims to stay put, but they left for their homes on foot due to hunger and lack of money.

The 16 migrant workers were run over by a goods train early Friday morning when they were sleeping on the tracks.

The family members of five of the victims, from Umaria district, blamed a labour contractor for driving them to the edge. They said he did not give them money when they asked for, and instead gave them a bank account number. The victims, in turn, asked their relatives back home to deposit money into the account.

The relatives deposited whatever they could. The wife of one victim got Rs 500 from collecting mahua flowers. The wife of another borrowed Rs 1,000 from a self-help group. They deposited small sums like Rs 500, Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 into the account.

The contractor allegedly took a cut from each transaction, often as much as Rs 500, leaving the remainder for the workers. Families said he had not paid them last month’s salary. They got no help from the steel company where they worked, the relatives said.

Editorial | Aurangabad incident must draw attention to vulnerability of migrant workers in crisis

Umaria collector Swarochish Somvanshi, who has spoken to some of the victims’ relatives, said he would send a report by the sub-divisional magistrate to the state government, recommending registration of an FIR against the contractor by getting in touch with authorities in Aurangabad. He said the SDM would visit the bank in which the relatives deposited money and check the transactions. “There is no reason to distrust them, but once the transactions corroborate the relatives’ claims, I will send the report recommending prosecution of the contractor, including under provisions of the SC/ST Act,’’ he said.

The bodies reached Jabalpur from Aurangabad on Saturday. From there, they were taken to the victims’ villages in Umaria and Shahdol districts. The last rites of five workers from Chilhari, Amdi, Raksa and Maman Umaria were conducted late in the afternoon. The funeral of 11 workers who belonged to Antoli and Shahargarh villages in Shahdol were delayed.

Nine of the people killed Friday were from Antoli village. Some of them were related and lived close to each other. Both Shahdol and Umaria are tribal- dominated districts. Every year, thousands migrate from these regions in search of work.

READ | Migrant labourers didn’t walk along tracks all the way from Jalna: Rly officials

Aurangabad train mishap, migrant workers, India lockdown, coronavirus cases, Indian express news The site where a goods train ran over 16 migrants. (Express photo)

Shahdol collector Satendra Singh said most relatives had dissuaded the victims from returning home, given the risks involved. The father of Santosh Napit, one of the victims from Shahdol, told the collector that he asked his son not to return because he had some money and could have carried on for a few more days.

The septuagenarian father of Nirvesh and Rajbahoram was working in a field when a team of local administration reached his village on Friday. He had no idea that both his sons had died in the mishap. He said he had sent his sons to another state for work because the family was finding it tough to make both ends meet.

Gajraj Singh, another aged villager from Antoli village in Shahdol, was waiting for his sons Brajesh and Shivdayal. Brajesh, 28, had told him on phone that they had limited ration and had set off on foot.

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