Today is the International Day of the Families. Let us spare a moment this time for those of the migrants. A broken down rural sector, with agriculture being run by middle men paying peanuts to farmers while filling their own coffers, forces so many village men and women to come to the cities. Only to be taken advantage of by selfish and cruel owners, and forced to work endless hours for meager wages with no labour laws to protect them. To be mistreated by racist urbanites calling them names and haggling them over petty jobs.
A group of migrant families from Madhya Pradesh were killed under a freight train recently, in their sleep. They were walking home from Aurangabad using railway tracks as their guides and slept at night on the tracks, broken down and exhausted, possibly thinking that no trains would be running during the lockdown. Yet the Internet is full of heartless educated-illiterates calling them out for being foolish and insane. The accident scene with body parts spread all over, their belongings splattered open with the passport sized photographs they carried, and their potli of dry rotis lying strewn on the railway tracks, speaks of those blood curdling screams which were muffled under the train that night.
We are so hardened by our own ‘difficult’ lives that we can’t even think of their pain, their helplessness, and their absolute anguish which must have forced them to leave everything and walk home. Carrying their blistered and heavy feet, hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We as a society, have woefully failed them and their blood is on the hands of everyone who is a part of this unequal society, where justice bends over backwards for the rich but there is none for the poor, where people only remember the migrants when there is a job to be done, otherwise calling them a ‘menace’ and conveniently forgetting about their basic needs, and where we the people of this country, can’t sympathize with them even in their deaths.