The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday served notices to the Union Home Secretary, the Railways and the governments of Gujarat and Bihar over media reports of hardships faced by migrants onboard trains due to delay in services and lack of food and water.
Taking suo motu cognizance of media reports that the trains which are ferrying migrant labourers are not only starting late but are taking many additional days to reach destination, the NHRC said that the “state has failed to protect the lives of the poor labourers onboard the trains”.
“In one of the reports, it is alleged that many migrant labourers lost lives during their journey by train due to longer duration and no arrangements for drinking water and food etc,” the NHRC said in a statement.
The Commission has demanded that the chief secretaries of the government of Gujarat and Bihar inform as to what steps were taken to ensure basic facilities, including medical help for the migrant labourers who boarded the trains.
“The response from all the authorities is expected within four weeks positively”, NHRC said.
Reportedly, two persons died in Muzaffarpur and one each in Danapur, Sasaram, Gaya, Begusarai and Jehanabad in Bihar, including a 4-year-old boy. All of them reportedly died due to hunger.
“In another incident, a train reportedly started from Surat district in Gujarat for Siwan in Bihar on May 16 and reached Bihar on May 25, after nine days,” the rights panel said.
Photographs and videos of a toddler trying to wake his dead mother on a railway station were also circulated widely on Wednesday. The government, however, said the woman was mentally unstable and ill and that her death was not triggered by starvation.
The Commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, amount to gross violations of human rights.
“The aggrieved families have suffered irrevocable loss”, it said.