Just a day before he was killed in the train accident in Aurangabad, 28-year-old Brajesh Singh had informed his father that he would be reaching their village by a special train soon.
For Gajraj Singh, a resident of Antoli village in Madhya Pradesh's Shahdol district, that phone call was the last conversation he had with his sons Brajesh and Shivdayal (25).
Bodies of the two brothers, along with those of 14 other labourers, would be reaching their village on Saturday.
At least 16 labourers, who were travelling to their home state Madhya Pradesh on foot, were mowed down by a goods train while they were sleeping on tracks near Karmad station in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district early morning on Friday.
"Only a day before the mishap, my sons informed me that they had left on foot to board a train from Maharashtra and will reach Shahdol soon. They told me that they would sit in the train on Friday. But instead of my sons, the news of their death has reached me," Gajraj Singh told PTI over phone.
A pall of gloom descended the home of Antoli resident Ramniranjan Singh, who lost his young sons, who were barely out of their teens.
"I have lost my support system and now I don't know how I will live," Ramniranjan, father of Nirvesh Singh (20) and Ravendra Singh (18), said.
Senior officials and Beohari MLA Sharad Kol, among others, reached the village to help the grief-stricken families.
"We will probably hold a common funeral for the deceased from the village. The district administration has sanctioned Rs 10,000 each for the purpose," an official said.
Meanwhile, Shahdol station manager KP Gupta said the train carrying bodies of the deceased was likely to reach Shahdol around 1 pm.
Of the 16 victims, five belonged to Umaria and 11 were from Shahdol district.
"The train coach carrying the bodies of the labourers killed will be detached from the train at Jabalpur and arrangements have been made to take the coach to Umaria and Shahdol," Western Central Railway's chief public relation officer Priyanka Dixit told PTI.
The labourers, working in a steel factory in Jalna, had left for their home state on foot on Thursday night and slept on tracks near Karmad as they were tired, a police official said, adding that three of the four survivors escaped unhurt, as they rested some distance away from the tracks.
Migrant workers, rendered jobless due to the coronavirus-enforced lockdown and desperate to go to their native places, were walking along the rail tracks apparently to escape police attention.