Avoidable Deaths? Remembering the Lives Lost in the Lockdown

Over the course of the past fortnight, several deaths reported across India have occurred not due to the coronavirus itself, but due to the situation in the country as a result of the health crisis.

Here are the lives lost to the lockdown, due to the government’s neglect of the plight of migrant workers, alleged police brutalities during this period, and accidents faced by those who were on their way home in the workers’ exodus.

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From Delhi to Madhya Pradesh, a Walk Too Long for Ranveer "“Lene aa sakte ho toh aa jao (Come get me if you can).”"

Those were the last words that Ranveer Singh, a 39-year-old delivery personnel, uttered to his family on his final phone call home, reported The Indian Express.

On 28 March, Ranveer died of a heart attack, after collapsing due to the exhaustion of walking for over 200 kilometres.

He had attempted the 286-km-long journey home, from Delhi to Badfara, his native village in Madhya Pradesh. But more than a hundred kilometres away from home, he collapsed near Kailash Mod on National Highway 2, and breathed his last.

He is survived by three children and his wife Mamta.

Also Read: Migrant Worker Dies After Walking 200 Km to Agra From Delhi

62-Year-Old Gangaram Dies on the Walk From Hospital to Home

Gangaram Yelenge, a 62-year-old resident of Surat, had been vomiting and coughing. On 27 March, his son took him in an ambulance to the New Civil Hospital in the city.

The doctors examined Gangaram and diagnosed that his liver was swollen due to some infection, reported The Indian Express. After buying the requisite medicines, father and son left the hospital together at around 5 pm.

But there was no vehicle that they could find since the lockdown was underway. And so, they began to walk home. After walking for around 8 long kilometres and almost reaching his house, 62-year-old Gangaram suddenly fell unconscious.

He was taken back to the same New Civil Hospital, only to be declared “brought dead”.

His grieving son Naresh Yelenge told The Indian Express, “If somebody would have helped us or given us a lift, then my father would have survived.”

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Ambulance Driver Dies After Allegedly Being Beaten by Police

The Pimpri-Chinchwad Police in Maharashtra ordered an inquiry into the death of an ambulance driver on the afternoon of 27 March, after he was allegedly beaten up by the police, reported Hindustan Times.

Naresh Shinde, a 50-year-old ambulance driver, had died after a policeman allegedly hit him hard on the back with a lathi. The allegation was levelled by Naresh’s son, Nilesh Shinde, who was accompanying him. He told the daily:

"“We were stopped by the police and beaten up on the allegation that we were ferrying passengers illegally. My father pleaded that we were carrying a patient to Ahmednagar, but the police did not listen and let us go only after we paid a bribe of Rs 3,000. They beat us with lathis. My father was hit hard on the back with a lathi and soon after, he fell silent and died as he did not get any medical attention.”" - Bengal Man, Out to Buy Milk & Allegedly Thrashed By Cops, Dies

Lal Swami, a 32-year-old resident of West Bengal's Howrah district, passed away on 25 March, after he was allegedly thrashed by the police while out to buy milk during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

The incident happened in Sankrail town’s Banipur locality. Swami’s wife claims that when he was stepping out to buy milk that evening, the police saw a bunch of people gathered in the locality and lathi-charged them.

Hit during the lathi-charge, Swami's health deteriorated in the next few hours, says his wife. He was then taken to a local hospital where he was declared dead upon arrival by the doctors.

The Commissioner of Police, Howrah, has denied the lathi-charge to local reporters. He has also said that the man was suffering from a heart ailment and claimed his death was related to the same.

Also Read: Bengal Man, Out to Buy Milk & Allegedly Thrashed By Cops, Dies

A Route That Proved Fatal

On 24 March, one day before the Centre-imposed nationwide lockdown began, four people, including a one-year-old baby, died in a forest fire at Rasingapuram in Tamil Nadu’s Theni district. They had chosen to take the forest route instead of the main road, which had been blocked off because of the restrictions on movement, The Hindu reported.

They were part of a group of 10 people – six women, three men, and a child – who were walking through a dry canal when a forest fire engulfed them.

While a 43- year-old woman and her one-year-old granddaughter died on the spot, two other women, 46-year-old Manjula and 43-year-old Maheswari, died on their stretchers while being rescued near the Rasingapuram foothills at around 10:30 pm.

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Migrants Walking on a Highway at 3 am Meet With an Accident

Ramesh Bhatt (55), Nikhil Pandya (32), Naresh Kalasuva (18) and Kaluram Bhagora (18) were four migrant workers from Baswada in Rajasthan. They were part of a group of seven who wanted to leave Maharashtra and return to their villages in Rajasthan, via Gujarat.

But they were turned back from Bhilad on the Maharashtra-Gujarat border and had little choice but to walk back towards Vasai (near Mumbai), reported The Indian Express.

They reached Virar, on the outskirts of Mumbai. After resting for a while, they were up on their feet again. It was late at night on 28 March, and they were walking on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway.

At around 3 am, in the dead of the night, a truck came from behind and rammed into them. Bhatt, Pandya, Kalasuva and Bhagora were run over. All four of them died.

The driver of the truck fled from the spot, but was later apprehended by the police.

Open Truck Full of Migrant Labourers Hit by Another Heavy Vehicle

As many as 31 migrant labourers who worked for a construction firm in Telangana were returning to their homes in Karnataka’s Raichur, in an open truck. On 28 March, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, their vehicle was hit by another, a truck loaded with mangoes.

Eight persons were killed, including an 18-month-old infant and a 9-year-old girl, according to a report published in The Indian Express.

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Another Accident, in Uttar Pradesh

Nitin Kumar, a 26-year-old man who was walking to his native place of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh from Haryana’s Sonipat, died after a private bus hit him on 28 March. The accident took place in Moradabad, UP, reported The Indian Express.

Nitin worked at a shoe factory in Sonipat and was on his way back home after the factory downed its shutters following the Centre’s announcement of a 21-day lockdown.

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