On India's Shramik trains, arranged to ferry back stranded Indian migrant workers, 24 babies were born since May 1, as pregnant labourers delivered on board.
India's Minister of Railways, and Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyalOffc), took to Twitter on May 22, to post: "24 babies have taken birth aboard the Shramik Special trains. Wth the help of medical practitioners and prompt action by Railways officials and fellow passengers, mothers have safely and comfortably brought new lives into the world."
On May 21, news agency PTI reported about one such woman who had boarded a Shramik Special train at Gujarat's Jamnagar, on May 8. The woman named Mamta went into labour on board, as she got off at her destination in Bihar, she had a baby in her arms.
Her compartment was turned into a makeshift labour room, and a team of doctors, along with railway staff, supervised Mamta as she delivered a healthy baby girl.
On May 22, Indian news websites shared another similar report about a woman, who gave birth to her baby on a Shramik train, heading to the state of Odisha.
As Indian Twitter users shared the news reports, and congratulated the medical team for their efforts, many reminded the minster about those migrant worker women who were forced to give birth on roadsides instead.
Twitter user @mehraamol replied: "Sir, sorry to say, but this in no way is proud statistics to even talk off to start with. We as a country have failed, even after 73 years of independence, to give basic dignity to a sweet event like child birth, not to mention education, job & poverty...."
And, @viswanathkv added: “Don't even know what to say. The suffering of people in this period is unimaginable. How can we accept that some lives are worth more than others.”
Tweep @Naturopathyfor2 asked: "My biggest question is where is Smriti Irani (Indian Union Minister for Women and Child Development), when thousands of baby and women are on the road? Why didn't the government give preference to women and baby to board first in shramik train and bus?"
Meanwhile, @oommen highlighted: "Three of these babies didn't survive and I think that's the more important statistic."
It took the Indian government more than a month, after India's lockdown was announced, to finally arrange for trains and buses to help stranded migrant workers. The move came after many Indians took to social media channels to highlight the plight of poor migrant workers, walking long distances to reach their villages, amid lockdown.
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Reportedly, the Indian Railways has operated 2,317 “Shramik Special” trains since May 1. The trains have ferried back 310,000 migrants so far. India's lockdown has been extended till May 31, easing out in some areas gradually.