A video of migrant workers in India violently fighting each other inside a train over food as railway police watch from the platform has shocked many and gone viral on May 6.
When the train carrying migrant workers to Bihar, reached Satna in the afternoon, a clash broke out allegedly over distribution of food.
The train had set off from Kalyan in Maharashtra with around 1,200 migrants on Tuesday, reported NDTV, India-based television news channel.
"I saw 24 packets of food being distributed. That whole compartment has received food. We have not received any food, people are hungry here," a worker was quoted as saying by Indian media.
As the fight broke, workers jumped from one seat to another punching and kicking each other.
It was also reported that the railway police officers did not intervene in fear of getting infected by coronavirus.
They banged the train windows from the platform with sticks and tried to calm down those involved in the fight but their efforts did not work.
After the incident, in a May 7 post sent to Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of Railways and Commerce and Industry, Twitter user @saurabhiirm wrote: “Received call from relatives of #migrants (7979034022) abroad Mumbai-Danapur train. People need food and water. The train has crossed Jabalpur a while ago. They were provided food packets in the evening but most don't have anything to eat now. @PiyushGoyal.”
To which, Indian Railways’ official account, @RailwaySeva, replied: “Further next meal was planned at Satna (0845) including one packaged drinking water bottle but the train arrived at Satna at 1315 Hrs (due to late running) where meals have been provided to the passengers.”
Migrant workers in India affected
According to guidelines issued by India authorities, migrants who have been stranded due to the lockdown have to be screened for coronavirus by the state governments. Only in absence of any symptoms will they be given clearance to board the trains that are being run by the centre to ferry them to their home states.
Thousands of stranded migrant labourers are being ferried by special trains across the country amid the nationwide lockdown.
When the movement restrictions were first announced, thousands of migrants lost their jobs overnight, and were left without food or shelter. They were unable go home as all public transport was halted.
Many had started a long walk home prompting state governments to stop them. They were put up in shelters until special trains started ferrying them home last week.