Sundar Rai, 21, had convinced his family that his job would give enough money to save for his sister’s wedding. Buddhinath Rai, 23, had told his father that work outside the state would help them make ends meet.
Both youths, belonging to the same panchayat in Jharkhand’s Godda district, left their homes in February. In March, the Centre imposed the lockdown to contain Covid-19. In UP’s Bhadohi, Sundar and Buddhinath grew restless as money ran out. On May 2, they set out for home on foot with 14 others. After walking more than 200 km, they entered Bihar on May 5 and hitched a ride on the roof of a truck. In less than three hours, the truck hit a bridge, leaving Sunder and Buddhinath dead and two others injured.
“We were talking about the disease and the lockdown. Suddenly there was a thud… If the truck would have moved three metres more, I would have been dead too,” said Gitan Ray, who has suffered a fracture on his arm.
The truck driver has been booked for rash driving and causing death by negligence, among other charges.
Sundar’s mother Kusum Devi said, “His father wanted to go, but he is not well. So, Sundar went and told us that he would earn enough for his sister’s wedding.”
She said the family of seven does not even have enough money for the last rites and hopes the government will help.
Buddhinath’s father Baleshwar Rai said he had warned his son against setting out for home on foot. “They did not listen, they switched off their phones. Then we heard of his death.” Both families said they don’t own any land.
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