At least 18 migrant workers journeying across states in trucks were killed in four separate accidents since Monday night during the countrywide lockdown to combat the coronavirus.
In Uttar Pradesh, five migrant workers were killed in two separate accidents on highways on Monday. In the first incident, three women migrant workers were killed and at least 12 were injured when their truck skidded and overturned into a roadside ditch because of a burst tyre on the Jhansi-Mirzapur highway. The group of 17 workers had started walking from Delhi towards their villages in the eastern pockets of Uttar Pradesh, when a truck driver agreed to give them a ride.
The accident took at the Mahuva crossing in Mahoba district, Superintendent of Police Mani Lal Patida told PTI. “The injured have been admitted to a government hospital,” he added. “The truck has been seized and investigations are on.”
In Unnao, about 65 km from Lucknow, two migrants were killed and 23 were injured on Monday when a truck transporting them had an accident on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, NDTV reported. The labourers were headed to Azamgarh from Delhi.
Four migrant workers were killed on Tuesday in another road accident in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district, according to PTI. The workers were on their way to Jharkhand from Solapur.
In a road crash in Bihar, at least nine migrant workers were killed on Tuesday after a truck collided with a bus in Naugachhia, Bhagalpur, ANI reported. Several were injured in the accident, though the exact numbers were not immediately clear.
At least 50 migrant workers have been killed in the the last 10 days while trying to return to their homes.
On Saturday, 24 migrants were killed and several injured after the truck they were travelling in collided with another one in Uttar Pradesh’s Auriya district. The migrants had started their journey from Rajasthan and were going to their villages in Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. They had hitched a ride on a truck transporting food packets. Just a week before that, 16 migrants were run over by a train in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district. Exhausted from the walk home, they had slept on railway tracks.
The sudden shutdown of businesses has upended the lives of millions of migrant labourers in cities. Left without means of sustenance, migrant workers have been forced to return home with their families. Many undertook long journeys on foot, bicycles or holed up in trucks, with some balancing their children and others carrying their elderly parents. The Centre started running ‘Shramik Special’ trains from May 1. However, many still continue their journeys on foot, cycles or any other means of transport they can find.
Last week, the Centre announced a Rs 20-lakh-crore economic relief package to support millions who lost their livelihoods to the prolonged shutdown. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman provided the contours of the package in five tranches. But it is unclear how much that will help migrants and others employed in the country’s unorganised sector – believed to make up 80% of the workforce – who are likely to have trouble getting access to the benefits.