A lot has been said in recent weeks regarding the death of migrant workers in Shramik Trains run by the government to transport migrants to their native states in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis. Numerous media reports have claimed that the cause of it was hunger and starvation. When the Government said it in Court that the cause wasn’t hunger, media reports then attempted to give its readers the impression that the government was misleading the citizenry about the actual situation.
It all began when Hindustan Times published a report on the 30th of May where it was claimed that 80 migrants have died between the 9th and 27th of May. It quoted the Railway Ministry as saying, “Indian Railways has been running Shramik special Trains on a daily basis throughout the country to ensure that migrants can travel back to their homes. It has been observed that some people who are availing this service have pre-existing medical conditions which aggravates the risk they face during the Covid-19 pandemic. A few unfortunate cases of deaths related to pre-existing medical conditions while travelling have happened.”
Scroll published a report based on the report by Hindustanh Times but gave their own twist to the tale. They claimed, “Nearly 80 migrant workers died of starvation or heat sickness between May 9 and May 27 while travelling on special trains to their home villages amid the lockdown to contain the coronavirus, according to the data from the Railway Protection Force reviewed by Hindustan Times.”
But the Hindustan Times report said no such thing. In fact, the report quotes several officials confirming that there were various ailments the deceased suffered from and that it would be inaccurate to claim that the primary cause of death was hunger.
The Central Government told the Supreme Court on the 5th of June that the death was not due to hunger of lack of food. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that “an enquiry found that no deaths were caused by lack of food, water or medication… The people who died had some earlier illnesses. Railways has the details. People who showed signs of illness were shifted to the nearest hospitals”.
OpIndia has now accessed th post mortem reports of the migrants who died in these trains. Thirty such post mortem reports, which have been accessed by OpIndia, show that the migrants have not died due to starvation or hunger. The reports say that they died due to natural reasons, which was often a heart attack.
One such passenger, who passed away on the 16th of May, was a resident of Surat who died due to acute cardio respiratory failure. His post mortem report said that while the primary cause of death had been established, the final cause of death will be ascertained only after the FSL chemical analysis and histopathology reports were available.
Similarly, the post mortem report of Lal Babu Kamat said that he passed due to heart disease, pending further confirmation from the histopathological report. The post mortem was conducted at the JLN Medical College in Bhagalpur, Bihar. He passed away on the 26th of May.
The post mortem report Babu Ram Chandel, a resident of Himachal Pradesh, showed that he had died due to Cardiact Arrest due to acute myocardial infarction, which is an ailment that is sufficient to cause death in ordinary course of nature. The post mortem was conducted at BK Hospital in Faridabad, Haryana.
The post mortem reports of other deceased individuals also show that they died due to natural causes not related to hunger or starvation. OpIndia investigated 30 such Postmortem reports and found that none of them indicated towards the death being caused by starvation. Thus, it is quite incorrect to claim that the deaths of migrant workers on Shramik Trains were caused by hunger or starvation. But it is certainly not surprising that media reports claimed otherwise even without any evidence.