New Delhi: A day after visuals of injured migrant workers travelling in a truck with dead bodies wrapped in tarpaulin sheets threw social media into a spin, Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren attacked his Uttar Pradesh counterpart for not according even basic human dignity to the dead.
Soren called the way dead bodies of the migrant workers from Jharkhand were sent over in a truck as an “inhumane act” that insulted both the living and the dead.
“This inhumane treatment of our migrant workers could possibly be avoided. I request @UPGovt & Office of @NitishKumar’ji to arrange suitable transportation of the deceased bodies till Jharkhand border & we will ensure adequate dignified arrangements to their homes in Bokaro,” Soren tweeted.
The bodies of workers killed in #AuraiyaAccident were finally transferred into this ambulance after @HemantSorenJMM objected to victims bodies being bundled into plastic, thrown into the back of open truck, with those still alive and injured. No words some days. pic.twitter.com/2pBLIYcYKV
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) May 19, 2020
As many as 26 migrant labourers had died in Auraiya, 200 kilometres from Lucknow, at around 3.30 am on Saturday. More than 30 were injured in Auraiya as two trucks ferrying migrant labourers collided on the highway.
Eleven of those who died belonged to Jharkhand: one was from Palamu while the rest were from Bokaro. The others were from Bengal. The UP officials packed all of them in three trucks going to Jharkhand’s Bokaro and Purulia in West Bengal.
Soon after Soren tweeted, the Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said that the bodies had already started decomposing on the trucks. He said that according to medical jurisprudence, forcing the living to travel with dead bodies was a “criminal act”.
However, the political controversy forced the UP government into action. The district magistrate of Auraiya, Abhishek Singh called for an investigation in the matter. Soon the UP authorities stopped those trucks in Prayagraj and arranged ambulances for the dead bodies.
The incident also sparked a political row between the Adityanath-led BJP government in UP and the opposition, which demanded the resignation of the chief minister.
The migrant labour crisis has intensified over the last fortnight, with labourers desperately trying to reach their homes amidst uncertainty of work in cities. While many have been walking hundreds of kilometres, others have latched onto any transport they found. Many have died on their way.
The UP government has banned all those who are walking from entering the state, and has said only those availing of the state bus facility will be permitted. State officials have also been directed to send migrants home in government buses only.