The Narendra Modi government has informed the parliament that 97 people died on-board Shramik Specials trains deployed by the centre to ferry migrant workers out of which nearly 60 people lost lives due to their pre-existing diseases and ailments.
In a written reply [pdf] to a question posed by Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien in Rajya Sabha on Friday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal provided the data on the number of people died on these 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 minister said.
The Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that out of the 97 cases of death, the state police had sent dead bodies for post mortem in 87 cases.
The Railway Minister categorically stated that a total of 51 postmortem reports obtained from respective state police forces so far, showed that the reasons for their deaths were either as cardiac arrest/heart disease/brain haemorrhage/pre-existing chronic disease/chronic lung disease/chronic liver disease etc.
The Railway minister’s forthcoming response on the nature of the death of these migrants on-board Shramik trains comes as an extremely important amidst all the misleading reports pushed by the left-wing media outlets in the last few months attributing the deaths of these people to hunger and starvation.
Left-media outlets peddled misinformation regarding death of migrants on Shramik trains
Ever since the Modi government started the special Shramik trains to ferry the migrant labourers back home, the left-liberal media groups had begun to propagate misleading reports on the death of some of these migrant workers in Shramik Trains.
Various media reports had claimed that the death of these migrant labourers during their journey was caused due to hunger and starvation. The government had time-and-again had rejected such misleading reports, but media reports continued to spin these facts to give an impression that the migrant labourers died due to hunger because the government ‘forgot’ to feed them.
It all began when Hindustan Times published a report on the May 30 where it had claimed that 80 migrants had died between the May 9-27. The left-wing outlets twisted these facts to give it a spin to claim that these migrants had died of starvation or heat-related sickness.
The left-wing Scroll, which has been caught several times peddling fake news, had published a report based on the report by Hindustan 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.”
Not just Scroll, the leftist propaganda website – ‘The Wire’ too jumped in to exploit the issue of death of migrant labourers to attack the Modi government. The Wire had attempted to peddled misinformation by claiming that many migrant labourers had breathed their last while in transit due to hunger and dehydration.
Alt News, another self-proclaimed fact-checking website, whose co-founder is accused of online harassment of girl child, too peddled similar misinformation the railways had neither provided food nor water resulting the death of migrant labourers on Shramik trains due to hunger.
Similarly, Caravan India journalist Vidya Krishnan was also found spreading misinformation and lies regarding Shramik Express. Self-proclaimed ‘journalist’ Vidya Krishnan had claimed that 40 Shramik Express trains got lost and that the government ‘forgot’ to feed the passengers which led to the death of at least 10 people.
However, the PIB fact-checking arm took to Twitter to call out her falsehood and had stated that the cause of death cannot be determined without autopsy and proper legal procedure.
Post-mortem reports say migrants died due to pre-existing ailments
These media outlets had continued to peddle such misinformation even after the centre had informed the Supreme Court that the death on Shramik trains was not due to hunger or lack of food. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had 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, too, had accessed the post mortem reports of these deceased migrants. Thirty such post mortem reports had shown that the migrants have not died due to starvation or hunger. These post mortem reports of other deceased individuals also showed that they died due to natural causes and pre-existing conditions not related to hunger or starvation.
The Modi government started the operations of Shramik Special trains on May 1 to ferry migrant labourers back to their home states during the lockdown period.
In total, the Ministry of Railways ran 4,621 Shramik Special trains that were operated between May 1 and August 31. The Indian Railways carried 6,319,000 passengers to their respective home states, the Railway ministry said in the Parliament.