'Beta Nahi Raha Toh Pagal Ho Gaye': Real Story Behind Viral Picture Of Migrant Worker Crying On Phone

Ram Pukar was left stranded hungry and helpless when he received his wife’s call who told him that their one-year-old baby had died.

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"I am at a hospital in Khadampur block. I have not yet reached home," answered Ram Pukar, his voice still trembling.

Ram Pukar Pandit is the 38-year-old migrant worker, a photograph of him crying on the phone, clicked by PTI photographer Atul Yadav recently went viral on the internet.


"Kya karenge madam. Roz kama rahein, roz kha rahein the. Ab itna din lockdown ho gaya tha, kuch kaam nahi chal raha tha. (What could have I done? I was a daily wage earner. The lockdown got extended and there was no work)

Beta nahi raha toh pagal ho hi gaye the, ab bhi kuch hosh nahi hai (I had lost my son, I was numb)," he said.

Speaking to The Logical Indian, the migrant worker said he had decided to take on a journey of a thousand kilometres on foot and was striving to cross the Delhi border in a desperate attempt to reach his home in Bihar's Begusarai on Monday, May 11.

Pandit narrated his journey-to-home ordeal amid the coronavirus lockdown. He was stripped of the money by an official who promised to help him with his rail tickets and was left stranded hungry and helpless when he received his wife's call who told him that their one-year-old baby had died.

That was the moment, on-call with his wife when Pandit realised he had lost his only son and burst into tears, as captured by the photographer.

After the heart-wrenching moment, he met a woman under a tunnel near one of the vegetable markets in Delhi. He told The Logical Indian that the woman, identified as Salma Francis, helped him with the legal permits and documentation for his inter-state travel amid the lockdown.

"She fed me for over two days, booked tickets for me, got me tested for the virus and also handed me some cash for the journey," he recalled.

"Migrant workers in thousands were being turned away in Gazipur at Delhi-UP border. I saw this man and offered him food. He was sobbing, said that he wanted to return home as soon as possible because his only son had died," Salma Francis told The Logical Indian.

Salma was moved listening to the Pandit's plight. Salma is the president of Vision For Oasis Waves Society (VOWS), a Delhi based NGO which has been engaged in providing relief materials, ration and food to the stranded and the needy in the city, amid the lockdown.

"It was very difficult to get his travel permits amid the restrictions. Also, a huge number of migrant workers had been trying to get through the process to either get a confirmed rail or bus ticket or pool with a private vehicle for cash but I had told him that we will make sure he reaches home," said Salma.

"His son died on 11th, we tried to arrange his travel by 13th but it has been five days since he has reached his native state but he has not been able to meet his wife or family. I have been communicating with him continuously and now they have quarantined him in a hospital," she added.

Salma said she understands government's guidelines during the coronavirus scare but she is still of the opinion that the authorities should not follow one-size-fits-all policy and vouches for exceptions on humanitarian ground.

She further said that she is hoping that the worker gets to meet his family soon so that the efforts are not wasted.

In a heartwarming gesture, her organisation is planning to provide for the education of Ram Pukar's daughters and would extend help to his family.

Speaking on the viral photograph, she said, " I was not aware of it until I saw Priyanka Gandhi share the picture on social media. The entire work was done until the time that picture was circulated on social media."

The Logical Indian feels that although the coronavirus outbreak has brought the entire country to a standstill, this crisis has also brought to the fore shining examples where people help each other going beyond limitations of border, caste and religion.

Also Read: After UP And West Bengal, 4 Die In Truck Accident In MP's Banda

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Editor : Prateek Gautam
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Creatives : Abhishek M