New Delhi , May 28:
At least seven deaths on-board migrant special trains were reported on Wednesday, officials said, putting the Railways in the dock over its handling of these non-AC trains.
The national transporter said most of the deceased had pre-existing health conditions.
The seven deaths — four on-board trains travelling to Bihar and three terminating in Uttar Pradesh — happened over the past few days, and were reported yesterdays.
The death of 35-year-old Uresh Khatoon shook the conscience of the nation and left the Railways scrambling for an explanation. Her toddler’s vain attempt to wake up her from the eternal sleep on a platform in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur was captured in a moving video that went viral on social media Wednesday, opening the floodgates of criticism for the Railways.
The Railways attributed her death to a recent heart surgery, also corroborated by her son.
Another death reported from Muzaffarpur was that of four-and-a-half-year-old son of a migrant from Bihar based in Delhi. The boy died at the railway station here on arrival by a ‘Shramik Special’ train, while his father desperately hunted for some milk he believed would have saved his child.
While his father said he died of heat, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Railway, Ramakant Upadhyay, claimed the boy was ailing for some time and had died before the train reached Muzaffarpur station.
Travelling migrant workers have complained of lack of food and water on-board these special trains and also alleged they are not running on time and are being diverted “at will”.
The Railways has, however, maintained that these trains are running on “pre-scheduled rationalised routes”.
Some trains which should have taken 24 hours to reach to their destinations, arrived in over two days, according to reports, leaving the passengers on-board hungry and desperate.
“A Few deaths have been reported in Shramik special trains. In most of these cases, it is discovered that those who died are old sick people and chronic disease patients, who had actually gone to big cities for medical treatment and could come back only after the Railways started these Shramik Special trains,” said a spokesperson for the Railways.
He also said that 78,11,575 meals and 11,07,7,830 water bottles were given to migrant workers on board these trains till May 26.