Migrant labour dies at station; baby plays with mother’s shroud

Patna: In one of the most tragic visuals emerging from the daily reports of migrants stranded by the coronavirus lockdown, a shocking video of a baby playing with a shroud covering his dead mother at a station in Bihar has surfaced.

In a clip widely shared on social media, the toddler plays with the cloth placed over his mother’s body which comes off but his mother doesn’t move. She had died moments before. According to her family, she died of extreme heat, hunger and dehydration.

The clip is from a station in Muzaffarpur in Bihar, where the 23-year-old woman had arrived in a special train for migrants on Monday.

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Another death

At the same station, a two-year-old child also died, reportedly from heat on top of inadequate food.

Lack of food

The woman, according to her family, had been unwell on the train because of the lack of food and water. She had taken a train from Ahmedabad, Gujarat on Saturday. On Monday, shortly before the train rolled into Muzaffarpur, she collapsed.

Her little son kept playing and trying to wake her until an older child dragged him away.

“The woman was heading to Katihar with her sister, sister’s husband and two children,” said the ministry.

“The woman’s family members have said she was already unwell. Request all not to spread fake news,” the railways tweeted.

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Plight of migrants

Lakhs of migrant workers and their families were left to feed for themselves after India went into shutdown in late March. Without jobs or money, the migrants set out for their homes thousands of kilometres away, walking or on cycles, autos or trucks many died before they could reach home, either in road accidents or from hunger and exhaustion.

Earlier this month, the government started special trains to take migrants home, but the process has been vexed by paperwork and glitches.

Migrant families have been forced to wait in queues in the soaring heat either for tickets or at centres where they are screened and declared virus-free to travel on trains.

Temperatures have touched 50 degrees in parts of India

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