Amid the coronavirus lockdown, many migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, among others states had started walking to return to their home towns. In a similar incident, Insaf Ali, who walked 1,500 km from Mumbai to his village in Uttar Pradesh, died days after making the arduous journey.
Ali had reached his Mathkanwa village early morning on Monday, after which, the 35-year-old was quarantined. By Monday noon, he was dead, reported The Indian Express.
With his test results for coronavirus awaited, his wife Salma Begum (32) and family can only speculate why he died.
Salma said before Ali’s mobile phone ran out of battery, he told her he was surviving only on biscuits. Officials said that at the quarantine facility, he kept throwing up.
Salma couldn't see Ali after he returned as she was at her parents’ home, and his body was taken away before she returned. They also have a six-year-old son, Irfan.
Salma said Ali left Mumbai on April 13, telling her he was running out of money. “He had not got any work for weeks. He said that in the village, he would at least be around familiar people and manage.”
Ali worked as a mason in Mumbai before the lockdown. Ali’s two elder brothers, who work as labourers, are currently stranded in Punjab.
Shravasti Superintendent of Police Anoop Kumar Singh said Ali died after having some breakfast at the village quarantine centre. “His body has been kept in the mortuary and his sample sent for COVID-19 test to Lucknow. His family members have been quarantined as they had touched the body after his death.”
Given the high risk of contamination, postmortems are being conducted of only those who test negative for coronavirus, and Singh said they couldn't give the exact reason for Ali's death yet.
Shravasti Chief Medical Officer A.P. Bharghawa said the test report was expected soon, adding, “The cause of death is still doubtful.”
Uttar Pradesh has started bringing back migrant labourers across states and shifting them to centres for at least 14 days of quarantine.
Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi said they were only bringing back people in coordination with other state governments. “Some cases of people coming in are bound to happen because UP has a huge border, some manage to come through village routes. But whoever is caught is put in quarantine,” Awasthi said.