New Delhi, May 29, 2020: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Union Home Secretary, Chief Secretaries of Gujarat and Bihar, Railway Board Chairman over hardships faced by poor migrants onboard special trains due to delay in services, lack of food and water. Lack of basic facilities has allegedly even led to sickness and death of some migrants onboard the Sharmik Special trains.
Coming down hard on authorities, the NHRC demanded a detailed report within four weeks on the steps taken to ensure basic facilities to migrants.after media reports on hardships suffered by migrant workers as trains unexpected locations, and fail to provide water, food and basic facilities as to IndiaToday.
“It is a matter of concern as they [migrants] are being subjected to such treatment by the Railway authorities, which borders around barbarism. The poor labourers cannot be treated in such an inhuman manner just because they are poor and the government has paid for their tickets. Any shortcoming on the part of the government agencies cannot be covered under excuse of unprecedented situation amid countrywide lockdown,” the NHRC noted.
Making an observation on media reports, the NHRC stated: “If true, the aggrieved families have suffered irrevocable loss. The state has failed to protect the lives of the poor labourers on board the trains.”
The NHRC took suo motu cognizance media reports that trains which are ferrying migrants are not only starting late but are also taking additional days to reach their destination.
In one of the reports, it is alleged that many migrant labourers lost life during their journey by train due to longer duration and lack of arrangements for drinking water and food etc.
“Two persons died in Muzaffarpur and one each in Danapur, Sasaram, Gaya, Begusarai and Jehanabad in Bihar, including a 4-year-old. All of them have reportedly died due to hunger. In another incident, a train reportedly started from Surat district in Gujarat for Siwan in Bihar on May 16 and reached Bihar on May 25 after nine days,” the NHRC noted.
Accordingly, the NHRC issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of Gujarat and Bihar, Chairman, Railway Board and Union Home Secretary, while asking for a detailed report in the matter.
The Chief Secretaries of Gujarat and Bihar have been asked to specifically inform as to what steps were taken to ensure basic facilities for migrants who boarded the trains.
The response is expected within four weeks.
The Commission also noted that a large number of people have fallen prey to Covid-19 virus in India and hundreds have lost life so far. The situation is unprecedented leaving the government agencies, scientists and the public at large totally clueless.
The country has been put under lockdown since March 23 to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. From time to time on the basis of review reports, the government has eased the norms of lockdown and various facilities have been restored.
After widespread report on lakhs of labourers walking back home, the Centre announced that special trains will start from different parts of the country to take the migrant labourers to their native places.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in the Supreme Court on Thursday slammed those critical of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 situation stating, “We have something called prophets of doom who only spread negativity. All these people writing on social media, giving interviews cannot even acknowledge what is being done."
The Centre also clarified in the SC that it is not paying for tickets of migrant labourers. The bill is being paid by the states.