Don't Squat or Walk on Tracks, Railways Urges after Deaths of Migrant Workers in Maharashtra

The Railways on Friday took to social media, urging people not to squat, walk or indulge in any activity on the tracks after 16 migrant workers were crushed to death by a goods train in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district.

The deceased, who worked in a steel factory in Jalna, ere walking with others to Bhusawal to catch a Shramik Special train to MP, but fell asleep on the tracks due to exhaustion and were run over by a goods train near Karmad,

The Railways also warned people that although regular passenger trains were not in operation due to the lockdown, the migrant special trains, parcel and freight trains were running on the rail network. This announcement has been made on the railway ministry's Twitter handle as well as on TV channels as scrolls.

The decision to make these announcements comes after Chief Commissioner of Railway Safety Shailesh Pathak wrote a letter to the Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav, calling for abundant caution and requesting him to issue instructions to ensure that such an accident does not recur.

The bodies of the migrant workers will be taken to Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, officials said.

"A train that will depart from Aurangabad to Jabalpur in MP tonight carrying migrant labourers stranded in the lockdown will have a coach attached to transport the 16 bodies. The MP government will make further arrangements from Jabalpur to get the bodies to the kin," said Aurangabad Collector Uday Choudhari.

The incident is the most tragic involving migrant labourers since lockdown was imposed on March 25 to fight the coronavirus outbreak, with several reports coming from across the country of stranded people trying to reach their homes on foot, cycles, on trucks and even concealed in the drums of cement mixer vehicles.

The Commission of Railway Safety, which investigates all serious rail accidents and clears all rail projects, said now that such an incident of migrant or other persons walking along the tracks leading to consequent deaths have come to notice, all-out efforts must be made to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future.

South Central railway in a statement said the driver of the train had seen the sleeping men and had even tried to wake them up by honking but failed to save their lives.

Due to the lack of congestion on their routes, the average speed of freight trains have increased by 66 per cent during the lockdown. The Railways has ordered a probe into the incident.

Sources said questions are also being raised as to why railway personnel patrolling the area did not spot the men on the tracks and alert the next station as per protocol.

Despite the railways running migrant special trains since May 1 and ferrying almost three lakh migrants since then in more than 251 trains, many of them have started their journey home on foot or bicycle, saying they could not wait for their turn any longer due to lack of food and employment.