A total of 97 people have died on-board the Shramik Special trains deployed by the Centre to ferry the migrant workers to their natives, from May 1 up till September 9, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal told the Parliament.
This is the first admission by the Modi's government about total fatalities reported on-board special trains.
"Based on the data provided by state police, 97 persons have been reported dead till 09.09.2020 while travelling onboard Shramik Special trains during current Covid-19 situation/crisis," the statement issued read.
"Of the 97 deaths, 87 were sent for postmortem analysis,' he added. As of now, 51 reports have been received from the state police forces. The cause of deaths in certain cases was noted as cardiac arrest, heart disease, brain haemorrhage, pre-existing chronic disease, Goyal informed.
The State Police registers these cases under Section 174 (police to enquire and report on suicide, etc) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in cases of unnatural deaths and follows further legal process.
The statement came as a written reply to Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien's question in Rajya Sabha, who asked whether Railways had the details of the total number of deaths that occurred on board the Shramik Special trains since they started operating.
Two days earlier, a similar question was posed by Congress MP N Uttam Kumar Reddy in Lok Sabha, who was provided with the same response.
The lockdown imposed on March 24 left lakhs of migrant workers in exodus, who were suddenly stranded in big cities without work and income. Following, the Railways then ran 4,621 Shramik Special trains, from May to August, ferrying migrants from all parts of the country, mostly Gujarat and Maharashtra. Most of these trains landed in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Earlier, in a question by TMC Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen, Goyal said 336 Railways employees died due to COVID19, but there are no guidelines for providing families of the deceased with any kind of compensation, in case of deaths due to disease.
However, compensation to the family of deceased Railway servants who die while performing their duties were given ex-gratia payment as per guidelines of Department of Pension and Pensioners Welfare, reported The Indian Express.