In a shocking incident, six migrant workers walking on Saharanpur-Muzaffarnagar Highway were mowed down by a State Transport bus on Wednesday night. The workers had been walking to their hometown Gopalganj in Bihar from Punjab amid the coronavirus lockdown. According to news agency ANI, many people are injured and a case has been registered against the bus driver who has been arrested after initially going on the run, with the local police suspecting that he was driving under influence of alcohol.
6 migrant workers who were walking along the Muzaffarnagar-Saharanpur highway killed after a speeding bus ran over them late last night, near Ghalauli check-post. Case registered against unknown bus driver. pic.twitter.com/s81e7gpYkH— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) May 14, 2020
This tragedy comes simultaneously with news of 8 migrants being killed and over 50 injured in a road accident in MP's Guna.
In a letter to chief secretaries of all states and union territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had just a few days earlier sought their cooperation in running more Shramik Special trains for the migrant workers. Referring to a meeting held by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba on Sunday, Bhalla said, in the meeting, the situation of migrant workers walking on roads and railway tracks was noted with great concern.
"Since their movement by buses and 'Shramik' special trains has already been allowed to enable their travel to native places, all State/UT governments should ensure that migrant workers do not resort to walking on road and on railway tracks," he said.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had as recently as Monday issued instructions to the officials to ensure that migrant workers should not face any inconvenience while returning to Uttar Pradesh during the lockdown, in inter-state, or inter-district travel. During a meeting of Team 11, which comprises of top officials of the state for COVID-19 management, the Chief Minister asked them to ensure humane treatment is meted out to the workers returning to their respective districts.
Adityanath also asked officials to ensure that no migrant labourer returns to the state while travelling on foot or using two-wheelers. Accidents involving migrant workers who are walking home have been reported from across the country in recent days. Last week, 16 migrant workers were killed after a cargo train ran over them while they were sleeping on the tracks in Maharashtra's Aurangabad.
(With agency inputs)