India is losing people not just to the COVID-19 but also to the coronavirus lockdown. On April 15, India’s Covid-19 death toll was 405. However, as India extends the country-wide lockdown, there is a statistic that no one seems to be focusing on - the human cost of the lockdown. Nearly 200 people have reportedly died because of the lockdown.
Based on a dataset created by researchers Thejesh GN, Kanika Sharma and Aman, Indian news website theprint.in reported that 195 or more people have died of the lockdown.
The Print article further stated: "Of these, 53 deaths were caused by exhaustion, hunger, denial of medical care, or suicides due to lack of food or livelihood. At least seven people were killed in violent crimes, such as people turning into vigilantes and attacking others for violating the lockdown. Migrant labourers wanting to return home were forced to walk hundreds of kilometres on highways that speeding vehicles were expecting to be empty. At least 35 migrants were accidentally run over. At least 40 people have died or committed suicide after India shut all alcohol stores. Another 39 people have committed suicide because they feared getting the coronavirus infection, thanks to the panic created by the lockdown, or because of loneliness or being quarantined. Yet another 21 deaths were caused for miscellaneous reasons."
On April 14, newindianexpress.com reported about, a 24-year-old migrant worker from the Indian state of Bihar who had committed suicide in Hyderabad after being upset over not being able to go home because of the lockdown. The victim, Mohd Aamir’s body was found hanging in his room in Uppal on Monday, the police said. Aamir had called his family on Saturday telling them he had no money to pay his room rent.
And, last week, a shelter home at Delhi's Kashmere Gate was set on fire on Saturday, allegedly by migrant workers who live there, a day after they had a fight with the staff over food, according to reports.
These are just the reported deaths, there could be many more. And, that's not all, a rise is expected in bonded labour and human trafficking in India.
According to a recent article on outlookindia.com: "The impending humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of the ongoing global health crisis is real.
"The huge number – over 39 crore – of unorganised and migrant workers on the fringes or outside the socio-economic security umbrella, are the most vulnerable the report says: 'This makes them the easiest target for the organised crime network of human trafficking. Deprivation and hunger await them before and after they reach their villages across several states. They will be forced into debt and predatory interest rates even for their daily subsistence. This will trigger decades of inter-generational bondage and wage-less labour. Hundreds of thousands of children will be enslaved.'"
The report added: "Once the lockdown is lifted and normal manufacturing activity resumes, factory owners will look to cover their financial losses by employing cheap labour. Increasingly, desperate and vulnerable populations of unorganised workers, who are in no position to negotiate wages or their rights, will be a massive pool for cheap labour. A large number of these labourers will be children, forced out of school, bearing the burden of sustaining their families. Thousands of children will likely be trafficked across the country to work in manufacturing units where they will be paid meagre to no wages and will most likely face extreme physical, mental and sexual violence."