Migrants continue to lose lives to accidents, hunger and suicide amid the lockdown

The physical safety and mental health of migrants has been adversely affected as they battle for survival


Over 130 (unofficial figures) migrants have died due to the Centre’s apathy during the lockdown in India as they walk back home bracing the heat, exhaustion, fatal accidents and the future’s uncertainty.  

In the past two weeks alone, there have been more than 50 migrants who have died in various accidents across the country. Their desperation to reach home to a safe haven cost them their lives.

·         Sixteen migrant workers in a group of twenty suffered a tragic fate after they were mowed down by an empty freight train in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad district in the early hours of Friday, May 8. It was reported that while 14 of them died on the spot, two of them succumbed to their injuries later. The workers were walking to Bhusawal from Jalna, 157 kms apart, to board a “Shramik Special” train to return to Madhya Pradesh. They were sleeping on the railway track after being exhausted from covering such a long distance, when the mishap occurred between the Badnapur and Karmad stations in Nanded division. 

Read more – Sixteen migrants killed after cargo train runs over them; railways orders probe


·         In an accident, in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar on May 13, when six migrant workers walking to their homes in Bihar from Punjab, were killed and four others were hit by a roadways bus on the Delhi-Saharanpur Highway which was returning to Agra after dropping migrant labourers to their homes, officials said. 

According to the police, the deceased were residents of the Gopalganj district and were walking back home from Punjab. Station House Officer Anil Kapervan said that medical reports confirmed that Rajbir, the roadways bus driver, was under the influence of alcohol when the incident took place and had been arrested.

On May 14, fourteen migrant labourers were killed and nearly 60 were injured in two road accidents while they were on the way to their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the police said. The Madhya Pradesh police said that in an early morning accident in Guna, around 180 kms from Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal, eight Uttar Pradesh-bound migrant workers were killed and nearly 55 injured when the truck they were travelling in, collided with a bus, The Tribune reported.

Read more – Fourteen migrants die, 60 get injured in two road accidents


·         In Barabanki, a group of seven labourers returning from Surat to Bahraich were waiting for conveyance near Badel on the Lucknow-Ayodhya National Highway on the morning of May 15 when a speeding truck hit them, killing three on the spot and injuring the rest. The group members were working in a handloom company in Surat in Gujarat and had left for their homes after the factory was shut due to the ongoing lockdown to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak. They reached Barabanki in a truck and were waiting for another vehicle to take them home, the police said, The Wire reported.

·         In an accident that took place in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district on May 16, about 200 kms from the state’s capital, Lucknow, 24 migrants were killed and more than 30 were grievously injured when the trucks they were travelling in, collided at around 3 AM. The trailer truck, carrying around 50 migrants was coming from Rajasthan when it collided with a van coming from Delhi in Auraiya district’s Mihauli area, reports said. The migrants were headed to their villages in Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and West Bengal.

Read more – Migrants killed in accidents on the way back home: 24 in UP, 5 in MP


·         In another accident on May 16, at least five workers were killed in a road accident near Banda of Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district on Saturday, after the truck they were travelling in, overturned, ANI reported. “They were going from Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh,” Praveen Bhuria, Sagar’s additional superintendent of police, said, according to ANI.

Read more – Migrants killed in accidents on the way back home: 24 in UP, 5 in MP


·         With emotional and mental health being adversely affected, migrants have committed suicide too as they see no way to escape the dreary future that lies ahead. In the first incident, 60-year-old Shubhash Prajapati, a resident of Parvat Patia in Surat allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself at his house on May 16. The incident came to light the next day when neighbours spotted his body and informed his relative, Sunil Chauhan. Chauhan said, “He was working at a construction site. Since the last two months, he did not have a job and was facing financial problems… During the lockdown, he might have been depressed.”

In the second incident, the deceased was identified as Sudhir Singh (24), a resident of Rameshwar Colony, Sachin GIDC, and native of Banda district in Uttar Pradesh. According to the police, he too committed suicide by hanging himself on May 16. 

In the third incident, the deceased has been identified as Rohidas Lingayat (55), a resident of Rushinagar in Limbayat area of the city. A native of Maharashtra, Lingayat worked at an auto garage and allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself on May 16. 

Read more – 3 migrants allegedly commit suicide in Surat, mental health crisis brewing amidst lockdown  


·         Despite the borders of Uttar Pradesh being sealed, two migrants were killed on May 17, when the driver of a speeding pickup lost control of his vehicle, causing the vehicle to overturn on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, The Tribune reported.  

·         Nine migrant workers returning from West Bengal to their villages in East Champaran and West Champaran districts of Bihar were killed when the truck they were travelling on overturned at Naugachhia in Bhagalpur late on the night of May 18. According to police, the migrant workers had left for their homes on bicycles, but managed to hitch a ride on the truck carrying iron poles. They were crushed under the poles when the truck overturned after colliding with a bus, also carrying migrant labourers from Darbhanga to Banka, police said, reported The Indian Express.

·         Three women were killed and seven others injured in Mahoba district on Monday, May 18, evening after a mini truck in which they were travelling overturned following a tyre burst. There were children in the vehicle, according to the police. Additional Superintendent of Police Veerendra Kumar said the passengers had been travelling from Delhi, and were given a lift by the truck driver. When the truck reached the Pandwari area, one of its tyres burst and it turned turtle, The Indian Express reported.

·         In two separate accidents between Tuesday and Wednesday, four migrant labourers and members of their families – all on their way home in the course of the lockdown – died in Uttar Pradesh, reported The Wire.

·         On Wednesday night, six migrant workers, who were walking to their homes in Bihar from Punjab, were killed and five others seriously injured when a speeding bus ran over them on the Delhi-Saharanpur highway in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district, The Wire reported.

·         Three migrant labourers died, along with the driver of the bus they were traveling in, near Arni town of Yavatmal district around 4 am on May 19. Deputy Superintendent of Police, Yavatmal, Udaysinh Chandel said, “The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation bus was carrying 30 migrants from Solapur to Nagpur. Around 4 am, the bus rammed a truck, which was carrying road construction material, killing the bus driver and three labourers, and injuring 26 others,” The Indian Express reported. The migrants who mostly belonged to Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, were being taken to the Maharashtra border from where they were supposed to go to their respective states.

However, while news reports peg the number of deaths of migrants at 130 or 160, a public database maintained by Thejesh G.N, an independent technologist, developer, hacker, maker, traveller, blogger and an open data/internet enthusiast from Bangalore; along with Aman (Assistant Professor of Legal Practice at Jindal Global School of Law), Kanika Sharma (PhD student at Emory University), Krushna (PhD student at Syracuse University) and Thejesh GN (Public Interest Technologist). We are grateful for the support from Roadscholarz, a group of freelance scholars and student volunteers interested in action-oriented research, socio-economic rights and related issues; the number of non-virus deaths during the Covid-19 crisis till May 14, 2020, showed the following figures. 

58 people had died due to starvation and financial distress, 29 had died due to exhaustion, 91 people committed suicide due to fear of infection, loneliness and lack of freedom of movement and 89 people had died due to road or train accidents.



Hunger, accidents and apathy killed migrants walking back home amid the Covid-19 lockdown 

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