Migrants woes unchecked in lockdown

3 harrowing stories of the travails of migrant labourers from Madhya Pradesh through lockdown were vying for media space almost simultaneously during the weekend in national and international media

Migrants woes unchecked in lockdown


Three harrowing stories of the travails of migrant labourers from Madhya Pradesh through the lockdown were vying for media space almost simultaneously during the weekend in the national and international media. The common refrain is that the government could have planned the migration better to save many lives of the class that remains neglected in emerging India.

How deep they have shaken the collective conscience of the people at large is anybody's guess. The frequency of such incidents seems to have numbed the sensitivities of a large section. The trivialisation of the migrant labourers has already become a talking point in the social media with twitterati launching #MeTooMigrant that kept trending through the weekend.

The story of a goods train ploughing through 16 migrant labourers in Aurangabad district from shook the world. They were from Shahdol, in Madhya Pradesh. It will take quite some time to get over the shock of seeing pieces of 16 bodies sewn up for burial, instead of cremation. The possible need for inquest over the causes of death may have forced the authorities to bury them. Nine of the 16 were from one village, Atauli.

Ashok, the grandfather of an 18-month-old child, had just a while ago cremated his only son Deepak, when officials from the district headquarters offered him a transfer order for the ex-gratia amount announced by the government. It took quite some time for them to convince him to accept the amount.

He said, "Deepak would not come back now. But if you could arrange to educate his son and get him a job and ensure he doesn't have to be going around looking for jobs you will have done a greater service than offering us money." There are other officers offering help too. With passage of time they will back out. Ashok owns two acres of land that prevents him from acquiring him a ration card

Another story of hardship began in Dhar in Madhya Pradesh and ended in Lalitpur district of Uttar Pradesh on a happier note on Monday. This was about a 26-year-old woman, had been marching for days from Dhar in Madhya Pradesh along with dozen other workers. She was eight and a half months pregnant when she set out on the journey. After covering 520 km in about a week the group took a short break to prepare some food.

It is then that she developed labour pains, and in the absence of any hospital nearby, she delivered a baby girl under a roadside tree with the assistance of other women.

Thankfully, the head of Balabehat village learned about it and sent a medical team that provided immediate medical aid to the mother and the new-born. The two were shifted to Primary Health Centre. Both are safe and have been sent to their destination in an ambulance," said the health department authorities.

A third accident was reported from Narsinghpur in Madhya Pradesh where six persons were killed when the mango-laden truck in which they were travelling overturned. Twelve persons were injured. 20 labourers from Jhansi and Etah towns in UP were travelling from Hyderabad without acquiring the mandatory passes.

The truck overturned near Narsinghpur. While all the injured were being treated in a hospital one of them escaped. Superintendent of Police in Narsinghpur, Dr Gurukaran Singh said the labourers were sitting on crates of mangoes. They were crushed under the crates when the truck overturned.

Badwani and Sendhwa are key points for the movement of migrants coming from Maharashtra and heading towards UP and Bihar. They are forced to pay up to Rs 35,000 for a loading autorickshaw to cross the MP and UP borders. The labourers are often dropped midway through the route if there is a threat of police checking. Gorakhpur resident Sudesh Sharma said the policemen often extort money from the vehicle operators.

Official estimates show 125.000 migrant labourers have arrived from different states to Madhya Pradesh. And just as many, who arrived from other states, are awaiting departure.

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