A video from a train station in India circulating online of migrant workers being treated “worse than animals”, with biscuit packets thrown at them and slurs being used against them on May 25, has caused outrage. On Saturday, railway authorities suspended eight of its employees because of the incident.
The labourers were travelling in a Shramik Special train at Tundla Junction, in Uttar Pradesh, on May 25.
After a video of the incident surfaced online, railway authorities reportedly summoned 21 employees for recording their statements before a probe team.
After recording their statements, eight staffers - including six ticket checking staff and chief inspector of ticket (CIT) DK Dixit - were suspended with immediate effect.
On May 25, a railway worker had shot a clip of several employees who were throwing packets of biscuits at migrant workers onboard the train and shared the video on a railway staffers' WhatsApp group, according to Indian media reports. The video later appeared on social media.
In the clip, men behind the camera are heard joking and saying: "Biscuits are being given as part of birthday celebrations of the CIT.”
The staff members, not wearing uniforms, are seen throwing packets of biscuits at the migrant workers, through the train’s doors and windows.
“Stand back! Stand back!,” they are heard screaming, while laughing occasionally.
Later in the video, Dixit could be heard using slurs against a few migrant workers who were demanding biscuits.
For those coming asking for the packets, an official can be heard yelling: “Get inside the train!”
On May 29, a journalist, @arvindcTOI, shared the clip on Twitter and wrote: “Blood boiling video. This is how #railway staff provide biscuits to underprivileged workers travelling in #shramikexpress. Man in red T-shirt is Tundla CIT admin D K Dixit. One can hear him using slur against poor hungry workers. Video shot on May 25. @PiyushGoyal @RailMinIndia.”
Twitter users were enraged at the video and demanded action against those involved.
User @UrbanMeerut tweeted: “… So sorry to see our own people being treated like slaves. Culprits should be dismissed and sent to jail for corruption and misbehaviour with public."
Twitter user @iamlutfee_sr asked to treat labourers amidst the coronavirus crisis with “respect” and wrote: “Please note, the migrant workers are not beggars. They used to earn money through their work, sweat and blood not by begging for anything. We all must respect all human beings as they are […].”
Tweep @Mohamma78154188 wrote: “Animals are fed with more dignity inside the zoo.”
Thousands of migrant workers are currently making their way home from cities across India. Numerous stories of the labourers being killed, starved and walking without basic necessities have emerged and the Indian government has been widely criticised for mismanagement during the COVID-19 lockdown.
On May 1, the Indian government launched Shramik special trains to transport migrant workers who were stranded.
An alarming report by the India’s Railway Protection Force (RPF) has shown that around 80 people have died, onboard these trains, between May 9 and May 27.