New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) has issued notices to the Maharastra chief secretary and Aurangabad district magistrate after taking suo motu cognizance of media reports about mowing down of 16 migrant workers by an empty goods train in the early hours of 8th May,2020. The incident happened between Badnapur and Karmad stations in Nanded Division.

The officers have been directed to submit a detailed report, within four weeks in to the incident. It should also 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 from every angle. The details of the relief and rehabilitation provided to the victim labourers and their dependents along with status of the medical treatment provided to the injured is also required to be given in the report. 

 The Commission has 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.  

 According to the media reports, fourteen labourers died on the spot and two others succumbed to injuries later. The workers, who were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna to board a “Shramik Special” train to return to Madhya Pradesh, were sleeping on the railway line when the mishap occurred between Badnapur and Karmad stations in Nanded Division. Reportedly, 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. At around 5:15 AM, a goods train ran over them. The loco pilot, as mentioned in the news report, had noticed some persons along the tracks. He honked and also tried to stop the train but failed to contain the speed before hitting the victims lying on the tracks. An inquiry in the matter has been ordered by the Ministry of Railways.