The lockdown that was imposed to curb the spread of the disease revealed the plight of the vulnerable Indian migrant labour force. With no work and no way to feed themselves, millions had no choice but to defy the lockdown and return to their villages. Many of them succumbed on the way.
But apparently, the government did not keep a track of these lives. Because recently, when the government was asked whether families of migrant workers had been compensated or not, it replied:
There is no data on migrant deaths so the question of compensation does not arise.
After this response from the government, we were reminded of all these incidents from the lockdown, when several migrant workers lost their lives, either to accidents or to hunger and exhaustion.
1. According to a non-profit body SaveLife Foundation, around 200 migrant workers lost their lives in road accidents during the lockdown period.
The non-profit body said that it compiled data from various print and online media reports published during the lockdown period and cross-verified them from sources.
2. According to a report by HT, almost 80 migrant workers died onboard Shramik special trains between 9th May and 27th May.
The trains that were run especially for migrant workers, transported around 5 million migrant workers back home.
3. At least 24 migrant workers were killed after the trucks they were travelling in collided in UP's Auraiya.
Desperate to reach their villages, separate groups of migrants had hitched rides on two trucks from Rajasthan and Delhi and were headed to Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and West Bengal. One of the trucks was loaded with goods and labourers were sitting on the sacks when they were thrown off the vehicle due to the impact of the collision.
Again it’s sad to hear that 24 migrants killed, 36 injured after trucks collide in UP's #Auraiya— Shikhar Ram Tripathi (@shikhar_ji) May 16, 2020
I express my condolences to the families of those killed in this accident. @narendramodi @myogioffice @myogiadityanath @AmitShah @JPNadda pic.twitter.com/SN2Z1WfhYN
4. 8 migrant workers, including an 18-month-old baby, who were part of a group of migrant labourers returning home in Karnataka’s Raichur district, died in a road accident on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
31 migrant labourers employed by a construction firm in Suryapet district of Telangana were travelling in a Bolero Max open truck when their vehicle was hit by a truck.
5. The body of a 38-year-old migrant worker was reportedly found in the toilet of a Shramik Special train at Jhansi Railway Station in UP.
The man identified as Mohan Lal Sharma had boarded the train from Mumbai.
6. A 24-year-old migrant worker, who was travelling from Gujarat to UP, lost his life on the way reportedly due to heat stroke.
A moving picture of a sick migrant worker lying on the lap of his friend by the side of a road in Madhya Pradesh's Shivpuri district went viral on social media.
https://t.co/MlcoH2t18B— Shahab Jafri (@ShahabJafri55) May 17, 2020
Here is Amrit lying in his Friend Yaqoob’s lap, 24 hours before he left this World for a better place...
Amrit is one of the hundreds of Labourers who wanted to get back to his home, alive.
This Government has failed both Amrit and Yaqoob.
7. A four-and-a-half year old migrant kid died of illness at a railway station in Bihar as his father kept running for milk.
8. Ranveer Singh, a migrant worker set out on foot from Delhi to his village 326 kilometres away. He died of a heart attack just 80 km away from his home.
Ranveer worked as a delivery agent in Delhi. He collapsed on the highway in Agra where a local shopkeeper offered him tea and biscuits. But soon, Ranveer Singh had a heart attack and died.
9. 16 migrant workers were killed after a goods train ran over them while they were sleeping on the tracks in Maharashtra's Aurangabad.
According to the police, these migrants were headed to Madhya Pradesh and apparently chose to walk on railway tracks to avoid the highway, where they risked getting stopped amid lockdown.
Extremely anguished by the loss of lives due to the rail accident in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. Have spoken to Railway Minister Shri Piyush Goyal and he is closely monitoring the situation. All possible assistance required is being provided.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 8, 2020
10. A 23-year-old man who walked 500 km from Nagpur on his way home to Namakkal in Tamil Nadu, collapsed and died while resting at a shelter home in Secunderabad.
He was with a group of 26 other people, all of whom were travelling to different parts of Tamil Nadu. The temperatures in the Nagpur-Telangana region were touching around 38 degrees during that time in April.
11. Kamlo Makdum, a 12-year-old migrant worker, died of dehydration and malnourishment, just 14 km away from her village after walking for around 150 km.
Kamlo used to work on the chilli fields in Telangana to earn for her family and was returning to her village in Chhattisgarh during lockdown.
This isn't an exhaustive list of the migrant workers who died during the lockdown. Several others lost their lives and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Maybe, we will never get to know the real numbers, but these lives did matter.