A migrant worker, whose photo while crying on the roadside in Delhi amid the nation-wide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic was shared widely , has been shifted to a hospital in Begusarai district of Bihar, where he was able to meet his wife and nine-year-old daughter from a distance.
The 38-year-old man, Rampukar Pandit, took a long and arduous journey from Delhi to reach his hometown amid the nationwide lockdown after learning of his infant son’s death. He recently reached Bihar by a Shramik Special train and was quarantined in a school near Begusarai town after his arrival. He said that officials took him to a hospital on Sunday and conducted a test.
Mr Rampukar broke down while saying: “My head spins when I open my eyes and I feel very weak. They brought me to a hospital in a car from the quarantine centre yesterday afternoon.”
“They also did tests on me, by taking swabs from throat and nose. The result has not come yet.”
Mr Rampukar said his wife and daughter Poonam visited him at the hospital in Khodawandpur block of the district, but doctors allowed them to meet him briefly, only from a distance.
They had come around 4 pm on Sunday, both wearing masks and doctors told them to stand a bit far from his bed, according to Mr Rampukar.
“We were all crying, we wanted to hug each other. I wanted to hold my daughter, but a few metres of closeness and 10 minutes with them is all I could get,” he said.
“My wife and daughter brought me ‘sattu’, ‘chura’ and cucumber. But, I am too weak to eat by myself,” Mr Rampukar said.
“One friend also came from Bariarpur, my native place, and met me today,” he said.
“I feel very weak. My children are also not eating because of my condition,” he added.
“I am the breadwinner of the family and I am down. I need help,” he said. “I appeal to the government to help me and people like me in this tragic time. We poor will just die otherwise.”
Mr Rampukar became the face of India’s migrant crisis after his photograph speaking on the phone while crying on a Delhi roadside was shared widely.
After the photo went viral, the migrant worker got immediate help and he was able to reach his home in Bihar.
The construction labourer, who worked at a cinema hall site in Delhi, was spotted weeping uncontrollably as he talked on the phone by the side of the Nizamuddin Bridge in Delhi by news agency PTI photographer Atul Yadav, who tried to help him.
Mr Rampukar was helped eventually by a woman who have him food, Rs 5,500 and also booked his train ticket from Delhi to Begusarai.
He had been stuck at the Nizamuddin Bridge for three days before help arrived. A vehicle came and took him to a hospital in Delhi where he was tested for COVID-19. It was negative, Mr Rampukar said on Saturday.