Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service
Hyderabad, May 22
The migrant tragedy linked to COVID-19 appears to be taking a gruesome turn with the recovery of nine dead bodies from an open well at a cold storage unit in Gorrekunta village of Geesugonda Mandal, Warrangal district, Hyderabad.
Six of the deceased are from a family hailing from West Bengal and are believed to have committed suicide to avoid starvation.
Initially, four bodies were discovered in the well on late Thursday night, but when the police started recovering the bodies, the number quickly went up.
Hailing from West Bengal, Maqsood Alam and his wife Nisha had come to Andhra Pradesh around two decades ago looking for work and were working in a jute bag factory till the lockdown was declared in March.
The police have retrieved the bodies of Maqsood Alam, his wife Nisha, daughter Bushara Khatun, three-year-old grandson Baby Shakeel, sons Sohail and Shabad.
The other bodies have been identified by locals as those of Shakeel Ahmed from Tripura and two of Sriram and Shyam, both from Bihar.
A large number of migrants stranded in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have resorted to desperate measures such as walking several hundred kilometres to reach home.
All deceased either worked in the jute bag unit or were related to those working there.
Shakeel worked as a driver at the jute mill, while Shyam and Sriram worked in a nearby mill.
Warangal Police Commissioner V Ravinder, Mayor Prakash Rao and Collector Haritha, who visited the spot, said various angles were being explored.
But as of now, the police were not ruling out the possibility of suicide as the bodies did not bear any injury marks.
All bodies have been removed for post mortem.
Police Commissioner V Ravinder said they were not ruling out the possibility that “the family may have been facing financial issues due to continuous lockdown and that might have led to them resorting to the extreme step of committing suicide”.
Reports said the police had picked up Yakub Pasha for interrogation to rule out any crime. The six-member family, residing in Karimabad in a rented house, moved to the jute mill godown where they continued to work if they found work.
Maqsood’s daughter was divorced and lived with her parents along with her three-year-old son, the police said.
Local ACP Shyam Sundar has ruled out the suicide theory saying “if it was a suicide pact, only the family of six would have committed suicide but there are three other bodies. We are investigating several angles.”
The jute bag company owner, Bhaskar, told the police that even though the factory was closed, the labour family and all others had enough dry rations and money and they could not be under any distress.
Bhaskar, who wanted to restart the factory, said he went to the factory premises on Thursday afternoon as all mobile phones were switched off and those living there were missing. He then informed the police.
The police also found half-eaten food in the room where the family was staying.
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