Fourteen migrant labourers were killed and at least 61 others injured in two road accidents on Wednesday and Thursday while they were on the way to their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, police said.
In the first case, a father and his son were among six people who were killed when an Agra-bound UP roadways bus hit a group of migrant workers, who were walking from Haryana to their home in Bihar’s Gopalganj, near Rohna toll plaza along the Saharanpur-Muzaffarnagar state highway in Muzaffarnagar.
Four others were injured in the accident that took place late on Wednesday. Two of them are in a critical condition and have been taken to hospital in Meerut.
The deceased have been identified as Harek Singh (52) and his son Vikas (22), Guddu (18), Vasudev (22), Harish Sahni (42) and Virendra (28).
“These workers were walking along the state highway when the driver of an Agra-bound bus, in an inebriated condition, hit them around midnight on Wednesday. Two died on the spot while four succumbed to their injuries at the district hospital. The accused, Abhishek Yadav, who had managed to escape from the spot has been arrested,” Anil Kaparwan, in-charge of the Muzaffarnagar Kotwali police station told The Indian Express on phone. Yadav hails from Firozabad and has been booked for alleged rash driving and death due to negligence.
The bus, registered with Mathura depot of UPSRTC, had earlier travelled from Agra to Saharanpur after dropping off a group of migrants stranded in another district, police said. The empty bus was due to make a journey back home when it allegedly ran over the migrants.
According to eye-witnesses and survivors, the group of labourers had set out from Kharera in Haryana on Sunday. They set out on Wednesday evening and had covered a few kilometres when the incident occurred. While Virendra and Guddu hailed from Patna and Bhojpur, the other deceased were from Gopalganj.
The survivors recalled a bang followed by screams as the bus rammed into the unaware labourers walking on the sides of the highway. “We had been walking for several days and were determined to reach home since we were running out of food and money. We were walking in a sort of line… In fact, we were at the service lane next to the road. Out of nowhere, a bus hit the people from behind. I survived because I was walking ahead. I lost my uncle and cousin, and could do nothing to save them. We are now going back in a vehicle… only if we had this option earlier…” said Vipin (18), a relative of Harek Singh, who worked in a plywood factory in Haryana. The labourers have been working in Haryana for the past six-eight months.
CM Yogi Adityanath has announced an aid of Rs 2 lakh each for the deceased and Rs 50,000 each for the injured.
“Bodies of the deceased are being sent to Bihar after postmortem,” said Muzaffarnagar SDM Alok Kumar.
In the second case in Guna, around 180 km from Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal, eight Uttar Pradesh-bound migrant workers were killed and nearly 55 injured when the truck they were travelling in collided with a bus early morning.
The accident took place around 3 am when the truck carrying nearly 65 migrant labourers from Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh collided with a bus, which only had a driver, coming from the wrong side on the Guna bypass road, Superintendent of Police Tarun Nayak said.
The injured were undergoing treatment at the Guna district hospital, he said, adding that none of them sustained any serious injury.
Prima facie, it seems the carelessness of the bus driver caused the accident, Nayak said, adding a case has been registered against the bus driver and further investigation is underway.
The deceased were residents of Unnao and Raebareli districts of Uttar Pradesh, according to police.
—WITH PTI INPUTS