Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday (May 18) shifted blame for the road accident in Auraiya, in which 26 migrant labourers were killed, on the Congress governments in Punjab and Rajasthan, saying the party is like the proverbial cat that seeks salvation after killing 100 rats.
Speaking to a news channel, Adityanath said, “In the unfortunate accident that took place in UPs Auraiya, the Congress leadership should understand that one truck (involved in it) was from Rajasthan, while the other was coming from Punjab.
“A hefty amount of money was taken from the migrant labourers, who were returning to Bihar and Jharkhand. What were they (Congress) doing then? You will exploit people and then put up an honest face,” he said.
He said the Hindi idiom, “100 chuhe khaakar, billi Haj ko chali (a cat seeking salvation after consuming 100 rats)”, fits on the Congress today. This is the shameful face of the Congress. I condemn the Congress leadership for making fun of the migrant labourers.”
Twenty-six migrant workers were killed after a trailer truck carrying sacks of lime along with people rammed into a stationary truck with many migrant workers sitting in it, near a roadside eatery on the national highway in Auraiya on Saturday.
Adityanath said for the last three days, he has been asking the Congress to provide a list of the 1,000 buses that the party says have been kept ready to ferry migrants.
“I am yet to get the list. I would like to tell the Congress leaders that during this pandemic, they should not do petty politics. The need of the hour is sympathy and sensitivity towards the migrant labourers,” he added.
The chief minister said along with the list of the 1,000 buses, if a list of the migrant labourers is also provided, “we will definitely permit them (to come to Uttar Pradesh)”.
“We have already told them that the list should be provided to us, so that we are assured that all the migrants are from Uttar Pradesh and we can safely take them to their respective destinations. We would be happy to do so, but in the last three days, we have not got any list of the buses,” he said.
The remarks of the chief minister come a day after Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra urged him to allow her party to ferry migrant labourers back home in buses arranged by it and kept ready at the state border.
She made the appeal in a video message posted on Twitter.
Sub inspector, 7 constables suspended; death toll rises to 26
Meanhwile, a police sub inspector and seven constables were on Sunday suspended for negligence in discharging duty in connection with the accident in which the death toll rose to 26 with another man succumbing to injuries, police said.
Superintendent of Police of Auraiya, Suniti suspended a sub-inspector and seven constables for negligence in discharging duty on Sunday evening.
On Saturday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had directed the suspension SHOs of two police stations — Fatehpur Sikri (Agra) and Indirapuram (Ghaziabad) after the accident.
In a statement issued in Lucknow, the Auraiya police said the accident took place near Shivji Dhaba in Tikauli village involving a trailer truck and a mini-truck with both the vehicles falling into a ditch by the roadside.
“In the accident, 26 migrant labourers died, while 34 others sustained injuries,” the statement said while updating the casualty figures.
A case has been registered against the drivers, owners and transporters of both the vehicles under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Motor Vehicles Act at Kotwali police station in Auraiya.
Investigations are going on in this regard, police said, adding that efforts are being made to arrest the drivers, owners and transporters of both the vehicles. As many as 32 injured migrant labourers were admitted to the Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences at Saifai in Etawah district.
The varsity’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr Raj Kumar said, “The condition of four migrant labourers is extremely serious, while seven others are in serious condition. Apart from this, 20 other injured labourers are also undergoing treatment. Some of these labourers could be discharged in the next couple of days.”
Shiv Kumar, an injured labourer who was going from Rajasthan to West Bengal, while recalling the accident said, “There were around 40-50 persons travelling in the trailer truck. As the trailer hit the stationary mini-truck near a dhaba (roadside eatery), both the vehicles overturned and people fell down. Some came under the truck.”
The accident in Auraiya is the latest one in a string of mishaps involving migrant workers returning to their native states amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Most of the victims were sitting on sacks of lime powder loaded on the trailer and were crushed when the vehicles overturned and fell into a ditch following the crash near an eatery between 3 am and 3.30 am on the Auraiya-Kanpur Dehat stretch of the national highway, police said.
While many of the workers were from Jharkhand and West Bengal, some were from Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, they pointed out.
“In the accident, most of the labourers were crushed under these bags, which were on the trailer truck, and died. Some of them succumbed to injuries on the way to hospital,” District Magistrate Abhishek Singh said, adding that all the deceased were men.
The mini-truck, which was going from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh, had stopped at the eatery as some workers wanted to have tea. It was carrying around 22 people, including five women and seven children, officials said.
The trailer truck with 43 migrants was coming from Rajasthan, they said. Both the vehicles were ferrying people who found themselves without jobs, money or food during the lockdown and were desperate to get back home.
Local villagers assisted the police and the administration in the rescue operation as earth movers were used to pull out the people from under the lime sacks. The badly mangled vehicles showed the intensity of the crash.
(With inputs from agencies)