Images of injured migrant workers travelling with dead bodies wrapped in tarpaulin sheets in a truck have cropped up on social media, with Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren calling it “inhuman treatment of migrant workers”.
He took to Twitter and said, “This inhumane treatment of our migrant workers could possibly be avoided. I request @UPGovt & Office of @NitishKumar ‘ji to arrange suitable transportation of the deceased bodies till Jharkhand border & we will ensure adequate dignified arrangements to their homes in Bokaro.”
This inhumane treatment of our migrant workers could possibly be avoided. I request .@UPGovt & Office of .@NitishKumar 'ji to arrange suitable transportation of the deceased bodies till Jharkhand border & we will ensure adequate dignified arrangements to their homes in Bokaro. https://t.co/uJL922LElP
— Hemant Soren (घर में रहें – सुरक्षित रहें) (@HemantSorenJMM) May 17, 2020
The bodies were of those who died on Saturday (May 16) when two trucks — one from Punjab and one from Rajasthan — carrying migrants collided on the highway in Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh. A day later, visuals of the injured and dead migrants being transported in the same vehicle were widely circulated on social media.
More than 30 workers were injured and 26 had died at around 3.30 am on Saturday, and eleven of those who had died were from Jharkhand.
After Soren’s tweet expressing outrage against the act that “robbed both the living and the dead of dignity”, authorities sent back the bodies and the survivors on three trucks. The trucks were stopped and the bodies were then transported in ambulances.
The Congress — which is part of the ruling alliance in Jharkhand — pointed out that the bodies had already started decomposing during the journey.
Senior Congress leader Pramod Tiwari told NDTV that according to medical jurisprudence, forcing the living to travel in such circumstances was a “criminal act”.
“The photo that went viral will be investigated,” Abhishek Singh, District magistrate of Auraiya, was quoted as saying by NDTV.
This information triggered a political battle between the Congress and BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress demanded the resignation of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, while the latter blamed the Congress for allowing two trucks to run “illegally” and transport people from two Congress-ruled states (Punjab and Rajasthan).