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For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Agency

It began as a dream for a better life and a family reunion. But when 6-year-old Gurupreet Kaur and her mother finally made it to the US, through the country's border with Mexico, the journey ended in a heat stroke and death.

The Kaurs hail from a small village in Hasanpur in northern India. Gurupreet’s father was one of many who made it to American shores from the subcontinent - one in 20 migrants, according to a 2017 study by Pew research Centre come from India.

He had left his hometown a few months after Gurupreet was born, and had been living in New York while his documents made it through the US immigration court system.

According to a statement released last month by the US-based Sikh Coalition, quoted by CNN, Gurupreet and her mother planned to be reunited with her father once they had made it across the US-Mexico border.

The journey was perilous, and meant dealing with people smugglers, scorching temperatures and scant food.

However, they made it all the way to a small town in Arazona, where they were forced into a remote space. Gurupreet’s mother, along with another traveller set out on foot to source water.

"They were never able to find each other again," Agent Pete Bidegain, a special operations supervisor for the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, was quoted as saying by Indian media.

Border Patrol agents found the child, who had died by heat stroke, the next day.

The child’s grandparents are devastated. Seventy-year-old Gurmeet Singh, speaking to CNN in the living room of the home where Gurupreet once lived, said: "To lose a child is not easy for anyone. But this is just too painful."

His wife, Surinder Kaur, told media that the shock of the news caused her to faint. "After I regained my consciousness, I just kept repeating her name," she said. "I wanted to see her one last time."

Gurupreet’s parents, say their attorneys, are "from a religious minority and fleeing persecution".

However, her grandparents refute the accusations, say they don’t know what made the children take such drastic steps.

In a statement released last month by the New York-based Sikh Coalition, Gurupreet's parents said they came to the US in search of safety.

"We wanted a safer and better life for our daughter and we made the extremely difficult decision to seek asylum here in the United States," the statement said. "We trust that every parent, regardless of origin, colour or creed, will understand that no mother or father ever puts their child in harm's way unless they are desperate."