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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Walking home to Rajasthan, four migrants run over in Maharashtra

The accident occurred around 3 am on Saturday. The truck driver, who had managed to flee after the accident, was later arrested.

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Sadaf Modak | Virar |
Updated: March 29, 2020 8:45:05 am
india lockdown, quarantine, coronavirus outbreak, covid-19, indian express news Police have identified the four deceased as Ramesh Bhatt (55), Nikhil Pandya (32), Naresh Kalasuva (18) and Kaluram Bhagora (18), all hailing from Baswada in Rajasthan. (Representational Image)

Four migrant labourers were crushed to death and three others injured when a speeding truck ran over them at Bharol village in Virar on Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway early on Saturday, police said.

The men, who were headed to their native villages in Rajasthan on foot, were walking back to Vasai after they were stopped and turned back from Bhillad on Maharashtra-Gujarat border when the vehicle hit them from behind, police added.

The accident occurred around 3 am on Saturday. The truck driver, who had managed to flee after the accident, was later arrested.

According to police, the seven labourers worked at tea stalls and canteens in Mumbai and its suburbs and wanted to return to their hometowns in Rajasthan as a nationwide lockdown to contain coronavirus disease made it difficult for them to earn a living.

Police have identified the four deceased as Ramesh Bhatt (55), Nikhil Pandya (32), Naresh Kalasuva (18) and Kaluram Bhagora (18), all hailing from Baswada in Rajasthan. Ramesh, who is survived by his wife and two children, worked at a canteen in Vasai; Nikhil worked at Goregaon, Kaluram at Vasai and Naresh at Bhandup, police said.

Two of the injured men have been identified as Mayank Bhatt (32) and Kalpesh Joshi (34). All the three injured have been admitted to a nursing home along the highway, police said.

“The men had left for Rajasthan around 6 pm Friday from Vasai. When they were not allowed to cross over (to Gujarat), they had to turn back. They started walking early morning on the highway hoping to reach Vasai, where they worked and lived, by the morning,” Mayank’s brother Rahul Bhatt said.

“We understand that the government had to enforce the lockdown, but at least they could have given us some time to go back to our villages,” Rahul added.

Pravin Upadhyay, a Baswada native who employs people at his tea stall in Mumbai, said they have been persuading migrant labourers against trying to reach Rajasthan on foot. “But the situation is grim for them here. They eat what they earn on a day-to-day basis. They may have supplies for a maximum of four days. What would they do after that? They think it is better to return to their villages before their stocks run dry,” he said.

Upadhyay added that the canteens usually supplies food to several smaller units or offices around the area. “Since all of them are shut, there is no business. Many employers have no means to pay these men and hence, beyond a few days of ration, they cannot sustain here,” he added.

According to Rahul and Upadhyay, trying to take the bodies of the four labourers to their village in Rajasthan was also a challenge now. “We have told their families that the men have met with an accident. They have not been told that four men have died. The least we can do is to take the bodies to their village for performing the last rites,” Upadhyay said.

“Most of the deceased are from the ST community, while those employing them belong to the dominant castes of the same village and were entrusted to take care of them. Their families may be upset with us and the village sarpanch and other authorities may have to step in to ensure that things do not get out of hand,” a man accompanying Upadhyay said.

On Friday, nearly 1,000 migrant workers walking home from manufacturing units at Boisar in Palghar district were ferried in tempos to a hotel in Talasari after they were reportedly refused permission to proceed beyond the Maharashtra-Gujarat border.

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