A moving picture of a migrant worker — visibly sick due to the gruelling journey to reach to his home in Uttar Pradesh — lying on the lap of his friend by the side of a road in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district as his friend calls for help has been widely shared on social media, giving an insight of the tough conditions faced by migrant workers in their desperate attempt to return to their homes. Hours later, the 24-year-old died at a hospital due to complications related to heat.
Amrit was part of a group of migrant workers travelling from Gujarat to Uttar Pradesh in a truck. Desperate to return home after losing job at a garment factory in Surat, the migrant worker from Uttar Pradesh’s Basti had paid Rs 4,000 for standing space in the back of a truck bound for Indore. But he fell sick during the journey and as a result, he was deboarded from the truck near Shivpuri. His friend, Yakoob, was the only one who chose to stay behind.
In the picture, Yakoob is seen calling for help from passersby as Amrit lies on his lap. But no one stopped. A local resident took a picture of the moving scene, but by the time it was widely circulated, the friend was dead.
“Amrit had high fever and was also vomiting. The apparent symptoms are of severe heat-led complications, but things will become clear after the COVID-19 test results are available,” said Shivpuri civil surgeon Dr P K Khare.
Yaqoob has been quarantined in the isolation ward of the district hospital as his test result is pending.
Millions of migrants workers, left jobless due to the lockdown, have left for their hometowns hundreds of kilometres away; many of them have set on foot and cycle despite state governments arranging special train to bring them home.
On Friday, Supreme Court dismissed a petition that asked that the centre be ordered to provide food and water to migrants on the move. “It is impossible for this court to monitor who is walking and not walking,” the top court said.
“Let the state decide. Why should the court hear or decide?” the court said during the hearing.