The body of a migrant worker was found in the toilet of one of the coaches of a Shramik Special train that had returned from Gorakhpur at Jhansi on May 27 evening. The passenger had boarded the train from Jhansi to Gorakhpur on May 23, meaning the train made the round trip before the body was discovered.
The body of Mohan Lal Sharma, 37, was discovered while the empty train that had returned from Gorakhpur after dropping off migrant workers was being sanitised on May 27, said a railway official on Friday.
Manoj Kumar, spokesperson for the Jhansi Division of the North Central Railway (NCR), said a doctor was immediately summoned and after confirming the death, the body was handed over to the Government Railway Police.
He said the passenger had boarded the train from Jhansi to Basti, around 70 km west of Gorakhpur, where he hailed from.
Questions are being raised as to how the body, which appeared swollen and blackened, went undetected between May 23 and May 27 when the death, the reasons for which are being investigated, took place.
Mr. Kumar said the train coaches remained locked till the time it was to be sanitised on May 27.
The NCR said on Twitter that no railway official was supposed to check the coach toilet before it was taken for maintenance at Jhansi on May 27. The NCR also said that Mr. Mohan Sharma had boarded the train only after COVID-19 medical screening as per rules laid down for rail travel during the lockdown period. “No medical assistance was sought by him or anyone for him during the entire journey,” it said.
Identified by Aadhaar
Mr. Mohan Sharma had reached Jhansi in a bus from Mumbai, where he worked as a driver, due to the shutting down of employment during the lockdown. He was identified by his Aadhaar details. Other belongings such as soap and ₹28,000 were found on him. The deceased has left behind a wife and four young children.
Akash Sharma, the deceased’s nephew, said while boarding the train he had called his wife but when they did not hear from him even after a day, they contacted the local police outpost. “The police told us not to worry. We thought the train had been diverted just like many others these days,” he said from Basti.
Kanhaiya Lal Sharma, another relative, said it was a “lapse” on the part of the railways that the body reached Gorakhpur and back to Jhansi.
Mr. Akash Sharma said his uncle did not complain of any illness while boarding the train and that the autopsy report said he had suffered a stroke.