Toddler tries to wake up dead mother at Bihar railway station brings out hardships of migrant worker
New Delhi, May 27: The Railways on Wednesday defended its handling of migrant specials after a heart-rending video surfaced online showing a toddler attempting to wake up his dead mother, who boarded a train at Gujarat's Ahmedabad but could never reach her destination in Muzaffarpur, from eternal sleep on a platform in Bihar. While the Railways claimed the 35-year-old died of a pre-existing heart condition, Aam Aadmi Party's Sanjay Singh said the claim is a "lie".
The video appeared online Wednesday and captures one of the most poignant pictures of the massive migrant crisis unfolding across several states. It shows a toddler trying -- and failing -- to wake her mother up who lay dead on the platform, a blanket placed over the body untidily.
As the video went viral on social media, the Railways, already facing criticism over its handling of Shramik Specials, found itself in the dock for delayed trains and subsequent shortage of food and water for the migrants, the situation of poor travellers aggravated by May temperatures shooting through the roof.
The Railways said that the train was travelling from Surat to Purnea and arrived at Mansi station at 9:17 am on platform number 3 where some people were seen deboarding the body of a woman that was later identified as Uresh Khatoon's.
Based on a submission given by the dead woman's brother-in-law to the railway police, the Railways said she was a resident of Katihar and had been suffering from a heart ailment and had undergone a surgery on March 22. She was discharged on May 24 and undertook the journey thereafter, the brother-in-law said in his written submission, according to the Railways.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh in a series of tweets hit out at Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and accused the railway spokesperson of lying.
"When the train arrived near Begusarai they started to wake her up and when she didn't, they deboarded at Mansi, her son said in the submission at the police station. Has Piyush Goyal asked his spokesperson to lie? If not, then how is the dead woman's family member saying that the woman was not unwell earlier and that she did not get any help in the train. "Register as FIR against those responsible for diversions of trains that led to death of seven people from hunger and thirst," he wrote on Twitter, attaching a video of a man claiming to be the relative of the dead woman, saying that she was not unwell and died because of the heat on board the train.
Singh also accused Goyal of being the "most insensitive and failed railway minister in India's history". "Does the BJP government not see the pain of these innocent people who are dying of hunger and thirst. Instead of two days, the train is arriving in nine days and the railway minister is busy with Tu-Tu Main-Main (a spat)," he said.
The Railways has earlier denied reports that any train was "lost" and said that all trains which originated during the last three days are running on their "pre-scheduled rationalised routes". Not withstanding the Railways' explanations, passengers took to social media to highlight the lack of food and water on board SHramik Special trains. While there have been several deaths on board the train, the Railways has said that none of them was due to any shortcomings on the part of the national transporter. "Few deaths have been reported in Shramik special trains.
In most of these cases, it is found that those who died are old, sick people and patients with chronic diseases, 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 Railways spokesperson. He also said that 78,11,575 meals and 1,10,77,830 water, bottles were given to migrant workers on board these trains till May 26.