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Centre claims no data on deaths of migrant workers – independent database shows 906 deaths

An independent database shows 906 deaths of migrant workers during the lockdown, opposing the govt's claim that there was no such data.
Minister Santosh Gangwar, who said no data was available on deaths of migrant labourers
Minister Santosh Gangwar: ‘No such data is available’ on deaths of migrant labourers
Image source: Money Control

Data from an independent database shows 906 deaths of migrant workers during the lockdown – directly opposing the Centre’s claim that there was no data, or no β€˜mechanism’ to gather the data. However, the volunteers maintaining the database say that the number is lower than it should be as they likely missed deaths local news. Moreover, mainstream media only reports a fraction of deaths.


The group of volunteers are Aman, a legal practice assistant professor at the Jindal Global School of Law; Thejesh G N, a public interest technologist and Kanika Sharma and R Krushna, doctorate students at Emory and Syracuse Universities respectively. Along with them are some students and scholars who volunteered due to their interest in research and socio-economic rights. They rely entirely on published news in order to update the database.

‘No data, no compensation’ – Government of India

Earlier, the Centre claimed that they did not have any data on the deaths of migrant workers. Santosh Gangwar, the Minister of State with independent charge in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, in fact said, β€˜No such data is available’. They later clarified that they did not have the mechanism to collect data. Therefore, the families will not be getting any compensation. This obviously led to major backlash as citizens demanded that the Centre take some responsibility.

906 confirmed deaths, 65 without ‘enough’ details in database of deaths of migrant workers

However, this database is available to the public and shows that there were a total of 906 deaths not caused by the virus, but during the lockdown. This number excludes another 65 deaths as the members could not get enough details and left them unspecified. The 906 deaths are classified under 10 categories.

CategoryNumber of deaths
Starvation and financial distress216
Accidents due to walking to during migration209
Suicides due to fear of infection, loneliness, and lack of freedom of movement, inability to go home133
Deaths in Shramik trains96
Lack of medical care or attention77
Quarantine center deaths49
Alcohol withdrawal-related deaths and suicides49
Exhaustion (walking, standing in lines)47
Death by crimes associated with lockdown (not communal)18
Police brutality or state violence12
Unclassified (unclear, unable to categories, need more details)65

Apart from the reasons of death, the database also contains the names of people who died, along with their occupations and addresses accurate to the district. It also provides the date of death.

Migrant workers face the brunt of lockdown

The lockdown was tough on the entire country. Cases still continue to rise, but it’s time that the government takes effective action, especially for migrant labourers, many of whom found themselves without any work. Their deaths were a huge loss, and thus their families deserve some form of compensation at the very least.

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