A sense of commotion raised when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a countrywide lockdown in March. But this was more problematic for the worker classes who not only lost their only source of income but also their shelter. This caused a state of desperation and they started for their hometowns on foot or whatever vehicle they could manage. They were evicted from their homes which forced them to take such a step.
With no source of income, and the sources of income drying up, the labourers walked for days and days, hungry, tired and ailing. This was a terrifying scene to behold and this costed many workers their lives. Many workers died even before reaching their home.
This led to a lot of criticism and protests from the opposition. The Centre asked the states to seal borders. After weeks and weeks of migrants on roads, the Centre started running special trains for the labourers, but even this did not prove to be helpful to the labourers, confusion over who was to pay for the tickets and the mismanagement of lists, many labourers continued to find their way home on foot, three-wheelers and illegal trucks, sometimes leading to accidents.
Ignorance by the Government
However, when on Monday, the Central Government was asked about the data on the number of deaths in Lok Sabha, it said that it does not have any data.
Three MPs, K. Navaskani, Suresh Narayan Dhanorkar and Adoor Prakash asked the Government that whether it has data of migrant workers who returned to their own own states and whether it’s aware that a number of migrant workers lost lives during their return to the hometown and if so, the details same, State-wise. They even asked whether the Government has provided any compensation/economic assistance to the victim’s family and whether it has done any assessment of the job loss among migrant workers due to the COVID-19 crisis and if so, the details thereof. To this, Union Ministry of Labour and Employment replied “No such data is maintained”. Since no such data has been maintained, the Government has not provided any compensation/economic assistance to the bereaved family. But, this response proves to be in contrast to the data provided by the Railway Protection Force. According to this report, almost 80 migrants died on the Sharmik Special trains, between May 9 and May 27. This ignorance of the Government not only would face criticism but would also cost lives of those unprivileged worker class.