16 migrants mowed down by goods train when they were sleeping on the tracks
16 migrants mowed down by goods train when they were sleeping on the tracks

Mumbai: Sixteen migrant workers, who were resting during their long walk from Jalna to Bhusaval, were mowed down by a goods train in Aurangabad district in the early hours on Friday when they were sleeping on railway tracks.

The police said a group of over 20 workers, rendered jobless due to the Coronavirus-enforced lockdown, were walking to Bhusaval along the railway tracks to board a 'Shramik Special' train to return to their hometown in Madhya Pradesh.

The incident occurred between Badnapur and Karmad railway stations in Nanded district at around 5.30 am. While 16 died in the accident, four migrant workers, who were resting afar from the railway tracks, survived.

One of the survivors sustained minor injuries. A video clip from the scene of the tragedy showed the mutilated bodies of migrant workers lying on the tracks, with their meagre personal belongings scattered around nearby.

According to sources, the empty train was heading from Cherlapally Station near Hyderabad to Panewadi Station near Manmad in Nashik. “The loco pilot noticed some people along the tracks and honked and also tried to stop the train but failed to contain the speed before hitting those lying on the tracks.

There were 16 migrants -- of whom one sustained minor injury -- who we shifted to Aurangabad civil hospital,” said Chief Public Relations Officer of South-Central Railway (SCR) Ch Rakesh. He added that an inquiry has been ordered.

“Ram Kripal, Commissioner of Railway Safety, South Central circle, will hold an independent inquiry in today's run-over incident in Parbhani Manmad section of Nanded Railway division of South-Central Railway,” the Railways Ministry said in a tweet. The survivors frantically raised an alarm to alert their group members sleeping on tracks about the fast-approaching freight train, but by then, the 16 workers were run over.

"The workers had started walking from Jalna and tried to reach Bhusaval, which is around 30-40 km away from the place of the accident (near Karmad near Aurangabad), the earlier night. They were working in a steel factory in Jalna and left for their home state on foot on Thursday night," said Superintendent of Police, Aurangabad Rural, Mokshada Patil.

The survivors were identified as Inderlal Dhurve (20, district Mandla), Virendrasingh Gaur (27, district Umaria) and Shivman Singh Gaur (27, district Shahdol). They are in shock and are being counseled by the police. The injured survivor, identified as Sajjan Singh (resident of Khajeri district), has been admitted to a hospital.

The Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh governments each announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the deceased. The bodies of the deceased were being taken to Jabalpur by a train leaving from Aurangabad, from where they would be taken to their home villages.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray spoke with Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to make the necessary arrangements. Thackeray appealed to migrant workers not to put their lives at risk and said a train would be run from Mumbai soon for migrant workers.

He added that shelter camps for stranded workers are being operated by district administration, and arrangements for food and medicine have been made at these camps. He urged migrant workers not to leave the camps till they are informed about train schedules.

The Maharashtra labour department has also ordered an inquiry into the incident. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also appealed to laborers across the country to avoid stepping out. He added that Rs 5 lakh compensation would be given to families of those killed and Rs 1 lakh compensation would be given to those injured.

The deceased were identified as Dhansingh Gond, Nirlesh Singh Gond, Buddharaj Singh Gond, Rabendra Singh Gond, Rajbohram Paras Singh, Dharmendra Singh Gond, Shreedayal Singh Suresh Singh Kaul, Santosh Napit, Brijesh Bheyadin (all from Shahdol district), Bigendra Singh, Pradeep Singh Gond, Nemshah singh Munim singh (all Umaria district), said an official. Police said, one of the deceased was identified as Acchelal Singh, but his native district was not yet known, while another victim was yet to be identified.

"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," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

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