Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has expressed shock and concern over the visuals of injured migrant labourers travelling in an open truck with tarpaulin-wrapped dead bodies of Auraiya accident victims in Uttar Pradesh.
"This inhumane treatment of our migrant workers could possibly be avoided. I request @UPGovt & Office of @NitishKumar'ji to arrange suitable transportation of the deceased bodies till Jharkhand border & we will ensure adequate dignified arrangements to their homes in Bokaro," Soren tweeted.
Twenty-six migrant labourers lost their lives and more than 30 were injured in Auraiya when two trucks —one coming from Punjab and another from Rajasthan — collided on the highway at around 3.30 am on Saturday.
Of the total deceased, 11 were natives of Bokaro district in Jharkhand. A day later, the Uttar Pradesh authorities sent back their bodies along with survivors on three trucks.
The photos of the trucks went viral on social media, leading to outrage, after which the the bodies were loaded onto ambulances near Prayagraj.
The accident in Auraiya is the latest one in a string of mishaps involving migrant workers returning to their native states amid the coronavirus lockdown.
Most of the victims were sitting on sacks of lime powder loaded on the trailer and were crushed when the vehicles overturned and fell into a ditch following the crash near an eatery between 3 am and 3.30 am on the Auraiya-Kanpur Dehat stretch of the national highway, police said.
"In the accident, most of the labourers were crushed under these bags, which were on the trailer truck, and died. Some of them succumbed to injuries on the way to hospital," District Magistrate Abhishek Singh said, adding that all the deceased were men.
The mini-truck, which was going from Delhi to Madhya Pradesh, had stopped at the eatery as some workers wanted to have tea. It was carrying around 22 people, including five women and seven children, officials said.
The trailer truck with 43 migrants was coming from Rajasthan, they said.
Both the vehicles were ferrying people who found themselves without jobs, money or food during the lockdown and were desperate to get back home.
Local villagers assisted the police and the administration in the rescue operation as earthmovers were used to pull out the people from under the lime sacks. The badly mangled vehicles showed the intensity of the crash.