Opposition Congress in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday alleged that the 16 migrant workers, who were crushed to death by a train in Maharashtra on Friday, had applied to the Shivraj Singh Chouhan govenment for passes to travel back home about a fortnight ago, but the administration failed to act on it.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted a video in which a survivor of the train tragedy claimed that they had applied for their return to their respective districts in Madhya Pradesh.
Alleging that the MP government's "negligence and inaction" led to the death of the workers, Singh also called for a probe to know what arrangements the BJP-led government had done to bring back these workers after they applied for return.
"The workers killed in the train accident had asked for passes from the Shivraj government about fifteen days back. These 16 lives could have been saved, if passes were issued. Shivraj ji, these deaths are the result of jungle raj," Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee said in a tweet.
In a tweet, Digvijaya Singh said, "16 labourers of Umaria, Shahdol and Mandla districts of Madhya Pradesh were crushed to death in a train accident. I had asked Shivraj Singh Chauhan yesterday. Whether these workers were registered (for their return)?
"If this (they applied) had happened, what arrangements did the MP government make? Listen from the surviving workers," he said.
Singh shared a video of a labourer, whose co-workers were killed in the train accident in Aurangabad. In the video the worker claimed that they had applied to the government for return to the state.
"Now the statement of the labourer Dhirendra Singh who survived proved that the workers lost their lives due to the negligence and inaction of MP government," Singh said in another tweet.
Talking to PTI in response to the Congress's charges, state BJP vice-president and MLA Rameshwar Sharma alleged, "This is happening due to the top Congress leaders, who had announced to pay the train expenses of migrants. The people are leaving their homes to reach the railway stations after this announcement."
"Congress should act responsibly when the state government has announced to make arrangements to bring back the migrants. After getting registration from the migrants, the state government is sending SMS to them with information about the boarding time and place after making arrangement of transportation," he said.
Sharma said that the state government was committed to bringing back every migrant.
Sixteen migrant workers sleeping on rail tracks while returning to Madhya Pradesh were crushed to death by a goods train in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra in the early hours of Friday.
The labourers, working in a steel factory in Jalna, left for their home state on foot. They came till Karmad and slept off on the tracks as they were tired, a police official had said.
Three of the four survivors were sleeping some distance away from the rail tracks, police said.
The migrant workers, rendered jobless due to the coronavirus-enforced lockdown and desperate to go to their native places, were walking along the rail tracks apparently to escape police attention.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine