National Human Rights Commission takes suo moto cognizance of the media reports airing that the trains ferrying the migrant labourers are starting late. Moreover, they are taking additional days to reach their destination. The reports alleged that many labourers lost their life due to long journeys; and lack of adequate arrangements of water, food, and other basic necessities. Such incidents took place at Muzaffarpur, Danapur, Sasaram, Gaya, Begusarai, and Jehanabad in Bihar. At these places, people have died due to hunger. In another incident, the train started from Surat district for Siwan in Bihar on 16.05.2020 and reached Bihar on 25.05.2020. The commission contended that such incidents amount to gross violation of their human rights. Moreover, the state has failed to protect the lives of the poor people on board the train.
NHRC’s Stand on the Matter
Taking note of all such incidents, the commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of Gujarat and Bihar, Chairman, Railway Board, and Union Home Secretary calling for a detailed report in the matter. They are expected to inform about the arrangements made to ensure there is no lack of basic amenities. They have to file the response within four weeks. Furthermore, the rail network in India is the largest in the world, equipped with the best technology. Being that, trains taking more than a reasonable time to reach the scheduled destination is hard to believe. This matter requires thorough investigation.
The commission noted that these migrant labourers are distressed people; they have already suffered a lot at distant places. They are desperate to go back to their homes. The government under no circumstances can cover the cost paid for their tickets by treating them in an inhumane manner. No excuse can justify such incidents. Moreover, the sufferings of the poor migrants are not coming to an end. There are several incidents reported where they are called to the railway stations and have to wait for hours; many times they are sent back due to cancellation of trains. Small children, pregnant women, aged people, and disabled people have to wait for hours at the railway station, with a lack of basic facilities. One can wonder what smokescreen the government is trying to create by running such special trains?