A 24-year-old migrant worker died in Shivpuri district in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday after being dumped out of a truck carrying migrants from Gujarat to Uttar Pradesh, PTI reported on Sunday. A photograph of the worker’s friend cradling him in his lap went viral on social media.

Early on May 14, Amrit Kumar and his friend, Mohammad Saiyub, 22, paid Rs 4,000 each to get on a truck carrying 60 others from Surat in Gujarat to Basti district in Uttar Pradesh. Around 2 pm on Friday, Kumar developed severe breathing problems and his condition deteriorated rapidly, spreading panic among the other passengers, who feared he had coronavirus.


Following this, the passengers forced Kumar to alight from the truck, Dainik Bhaskar reported. Saiyub alighted with his friend, not wanting to leave him behind. Kumar was rushed to the Shivpuri District Hospital, where he died around 11 pm on Friday.

Kumar and Saiyub worked in a weaving unit in Surat. However, they lost their jobs due to the nationwide lockdown and decided to return to Uttar Pradesh. After Kumar was taken to hospital, both he and Saiyub were tested for Covid-19. Saiyub has now been quarantined in the isolation ward of the hospital.

Saiyub told PTI that Kumar was the only earning member of his family. “Amrit and I hailed from Deori village in Basti and we worked together at the loom, and lived in the same tenement, in Surat,” he said. “It is devastating to think what will happen to his family, his disabled father and his siblings.”

Saiyub said that Kumar earned Rs 480 as daily wages, which he repatriated to his family in Uttar Pradesh. “We left from Surat for UP because we were almost out of cash and could not take in the pangs of being unemployed for over two months any more,” he said.

With no work and depleted resources, many migrants, attempting to return to their hometowns, have set out on gruelling journeys on foot, cycles, or any other means of transport they could find. Some also died on their way while a few others died in accidents. Last month, the Centre arranged for the movement of migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and “other persons” by Shramik Special trains to be operated by the railways during the lockdown.

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