Patna: Migrant workers are not only being killed on the roads, railway tracks and on special trains while returning to Bihar amid lockdown, they are also dying at the government-run quarantine centres in the state. More than a dozen migrant workers died at quarantine centres across the state in the last one week due to negligence and lack of basic amenities.
Much to the disbelief of family members, two migrant workers Pappu Ram, in his 30s, and Md Tayyab, 50, were found dead on Thursday morning in mysterious circumstances at two quarantine centres in East Champaran district.
Ram’s body was found hanging from a tree in the premises of a quarantine centre that was spotted by some migrant workers who informed the local authorities. Shocked over his death, family members refuted the claim of suicide and alleged that he was murdered. “Why would he end his life when he has safely reached the native village and was at the quarantine centre? This was a murder due to the negligence of the local administrtion; we demand an inquiry into his death.”
Ram was at a quarantine centre in a school in Shitlapur under Kalyanpur block in East Champaran for over 10 days after he reached his village from Kolhapur in Maharashtra.
Similarly, Tayyab was found dead at a quarantine centre in Lehsunia Urdu Middle School under Patahi block in East Champaran. Tayyab was quarantined after he returned three days ago from Pune in Maharashtra .
In another case, Virendar Yadav, a migrant worker, who was at a quarantine centre in Itarhi in Buxar district died on Thursday. Yadav was suffering from dehydration for the past two days and was treated.
Yadav, who worked at a paint factory, reached Buxar from Faridabad in Haryana 10 days ago along with some other migrant workers while covering most of his long journey on foot. But his family members said that he was having symptoms of headache, fever, cold and cough when sent to the quarantine centre, but he was not tested for COVID-19. Buxar civil surgeon Dr Jitendar Nath said that Yadav’s sample has been sent for the test only after he died.
These three migrant workers died at quarantine centres in Bihar on May 28 alone. There are reports of over a dozen migrant workers who have died at different quarantine centres in the last eight days.
Another migrant worker, Mohd Sahid (45), died at a quarantine centre in Bakhri in Begusarai on Wednesday (May 26) following chest pain, but he was allegedly not provided timely proper treatment by the authorities. Sahid reached his native village last week from Kolkata.
Angry over his death, family members have alleged neglect on the part of local administration in providing treatment to him. They “created ruckus”, staged a protest by blocking a road for four hours, said reports.
Begusarai District Magistrate Arvind Kumar admitted that Sahid died at the quarantine centre. “So far, we have no report to know the exact cause of his death, but he was suffering from a gastric problem,” he claimed.
Manoj Pal (35), another migrant worker, died at a quarantine centre in Darihat in Rohtas district “due to weakness” as he was not able to eat properly after he reached his village, travelling from Mumbai.
Last week, a young migrant worker died at a quarantine centre in Fesar in Aurangabad district following vomiting and loose motions. He had returned from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, where he was working in a factory, which shut down due to the lockdown. His family members alleged that contaminated food and water at the quarantine centre were responsible for his death.
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A minor child, son of a migrant worker, died at a quarantine centre after he fell from stairs in Khagaria district on Monday.
A 57-year-old migrant worker, staying at a quarantine centre in Ishaupur in Saran district last Saturday, suffered from light fever, breathing problem and nausea followed by death. He had returned from Delhi.
Another migrant worker, who had returned from Chennai in Tamil Nadu, died in mysterious circumstances at a quarantine centre in Madhubani district last week.
There are reports of death of a migrant worker under mysterious circumstances last Sunday at a quarantine centre under Koilwar police station in Bhojpur district as well. He had returned from Rajkot in Gujarat.
Another migrant worker died at a quarantine centre on Sunday in Nalanda district after his condition deteriorated “suddenly”. One migrant worker each reportedly died at the quarantine centres in Darbhanga, Siwan and Madhubani districts in the last one week.
Earlier, a 30-year-old migrant worker Rajesh Kumar had allegedly committed suicide after having hung himself at a quarantine centre in Vaishali district. Another young migrant worker set himself ablaze at a quarantine centre in Muzaffarpur district. He is now reportedly battling for his life, trying to sustain severe burn injuries.
A seven-year-old boy, son of a migrant worker, died after being bitten by a poisonous snake at a quarantine centre in Mohanpur block in Gaya district last week.
All the deaths taking place at the quarantine centres have exposed the rampant neglect, ill-treatment and mismanagement by state authorities at these centres. Thousands of migrant workers who have returned to their home state, have been confined to these centres and are depressed and angry.
This highlights the plight of the migrant workers, who have arrived in the home state during the lockdown. Most of them have lost their jobs and they have struggled hard to return home after surviving the worst period without food and money for over 40 days.
Information and Public Relations Department Secretary Anupam Kumar said that the state government has set up more than 16,000 quarantine centres. He said that more quarantine centres will be set up in the view of the increasing number of migrant workers arriving in the state on a daily basis. At present, more than 12 lakh migrant workers are staying in the quarantine centres. “It is a big challenge to manage them,” he said.
Kumar said that till Thursday, more than 19 lakh migrant workers had arrived in the Shramik Special Trains to Bihar from outside states, mainly Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Karnataka, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
As of Thursday, Bihar had 3,090 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 15 deaths reported. So far, the state has tested 66,000 samples and there are seven COVID-19 testing facilities in the state. According to officials, 2,072 out of the migrant workers who had arrived in Bihar from other states over the past 25 days had tested positive for COVID-19.
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