Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has expressed his anguish at the Aurangabad train tragedy early Friday morning, when 16 migrant workers were crushed to death and four others injured by a goods train while sleeping on the tracks.
Around 20 migrant workers had begun marching from Jalna in Maharashtra on Thursday evening to their villages in Madhya Pradesh and slept on the railway tracks near Aurangabad after approximately walking for about 40 km, said authorities.
“Today’s accident in Aurangabad was painful. I appeal to the migrant labourers that they should not get restless. We are in touch with various states. Keep your patience for a few more days. Maharashtra government is with you,” Uddhav said.
Uddhav’s assurance follows a similar appeal by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who said the state government was in the process of bringing back stranded labourers from other states. He pointed out that about 80,000 workers had already been repatriated.
“I will like to make an appeal to all the labourers stranded in other states to stay where they are. The state government is making all arrangements to bring them back,” he said.
The bodies of the migrant labourers will now be brought back to Madhya Pradesh after Chouhan spoke to Uddhav and Railways minister Piyush Goyal, requesting for a special train to bring back their bodies. Four others who were injured in the incident are under treatment.
The labourers who were killed in the accident belonged to Shahdol and Umaria districts in Madhya Pradesh, said state police.
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The Railways has announced a comprehensive probe into the accident which took place at 5.15 am near Karmad, around 30 km from Aurangabad.
Madhya Pradesh government has announced of Rs 5 lakh each for the kin of the deceased as ex-gratia amount. A team of high ranking officials from Madhya Pradesh is flying to Aurangabad in a special plane and it will arrange for last rites of the labourers and the treatment of the injured.
Several thousands of migrant labourers employed in Maharashtra have been desperate to reach home. While the state governments in partnership with the railways are now running special Shramik specials to take them home, several have been found to be walking along the highways in absence of interstate road transport during the nationwide lockdown clamped to slow down the spread of coronavirus.