Last week, a four-year-old child of an Indian migrant couple died, as his father desperately hunted for some milk to feed the child, at a railway station in Bihar. A heart-wrenching photo of the father, crying over his child’s death, went viral along with the news report on May 27. The family had arrived by a Shramik Special train from Delhi, where the father worked.
Maqsood Alam, the bereaved father believed some milk would have saved his child. According to reports, the father said: “I ran pillar to post searching for some milk for my son.”
The administration took too long to respond and the child lost the battle for life, alleged Alam. The mother, still in a state of shock, was unable to speak. Reportedly, Alam worked as a house painter until the coronavirus-induced lockdown rendered him jobless and drove him into penury, forcing the family to leave their rented home in a Delhi slum and head home after selling off their meagre belongings. Accompanied by wife Zeba and son Ishaq, Alam had started the journey hoping to reach his village in West Champaran district, last week.
During the journey, the child fell ill because of the hot weather. Reportedly, many northern parts of India are experiencing a severe heatwave. By the time the train reached Muzaffarpur junction his condition had deteriorated considerably.
Twitter users are shocked, that no one is being held accountable for such deaths among migrant worker communities, especially aboard Shramik trains, which were arranged to ferry migrant Indian workers back to their villages. Many asked, why these trains have such limited supply of food?
Referring to a previous similar case, tweep @si_rael posted: “In both the cases the victims were ill as per railway officials… #SuchAShame #NoAccountability”
And, another tweep posted: “Why is the government not helping the migrants. Does poor man’s life hold no value?”
According to reports, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Railway, Ramakant Upadhyay, however, claimed the boy was ailing for some time and had died before the train reached Muzaffarpur station. The family boarded a Danapur-bound train and the boy, who was apparently in poor health for some time, fell seriously ill on board. From Danapur they took one of the intra-state trains, headed for Sitamarhi, which was to make a stopover at Muzaffarpur junction, he clarified.
“The child had died before the train pulled up at the platform here and we rushed as soon as we got information,” Upadhyay said, reportedly.
He said arrangements were made for the family’s journey to West Champaran by the administration, which also made an ex-gratia payment.
@bismay_inc tweeted: “TOO LATE. After swallowing a blatant 'no migrants on the road' lie, one month ago, and over the dead bodies of so many poor Indians. So very pathetic. Can this and other lives lost be retrieved?”
India’s coronavirus lockdown is set to end tomorrow, however, the number of cases saw another record increase today.