Bihar youth lynched for requesting novel coronavirus test for migrants

Bablu Kumar Singh was beaten to death outside his house in Sitamarhi district

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Tuesday 31 March 2020
Police are investigating the case Photo: Sayantoni Palchoudhuri

A man was lynched in Bihar's Sitamarhi district allegedly by two returning migrant workers on March 29, 2020 after he asked for them to be tested for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

After the alleged murderers reached Madhaul village on March 20-21, Bablu Kr Singh called a local helpline, according to his brother Guddu.

A team from the state’s health department had examined them on March 24 after Bablu called the helpline, according to him.

They beat Bablu up until he was unconscious and he died from internal injuries, Guddu said.

The victim’s father said his son was lynched for helping the government to minimise the chance of spread of the virus in the community.

Bablu's family took him to the nearest health community health centre at Runni Saidpur, where he was declared dead, according to Rajesh Kr Jha, the medical officer in charge of the centre.

The accused were arrested and a first information report was lodged against six people , said Shiv Narayan Ram, the station house officer in-charge of the Runni Saidpur police station.

Police sent the victim’s body for a post-mortem on March 29 and are waiting for the report.

There were reports of violent clashes and disputes across Bihar, after thousands of migrant workers tried to return home, amid the nationwide lockdown called for by the Union government.

The lockdown was invoked as a measure to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Migrants, fearing a loss of livelihood and long-term unemployment, returned to their homes across the country.

Villagers in Bihar — fearing the spread of the disease in their villages — stopped the entry of migrant workers, asking them to undergo tests first.

Angry villagers in Jehanabad district — in another instance of violence — assaulted a team of officials in Dayali Bigha village, who were there to quarantine migrants who had returned from Delhi.

Vehicles belonging to the police and the block development officer were damaged. Nobody was injured in the incident.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar directed officials to carry out screening and isolate migrant workers returning to the state and step up efforts to trace those who reached villages without screening in the past one week.

“It is important to trace suspect cases who may have unknowingly come in contact with those infected by the virus to contain the pandemic,” he said.

The state government sealed the state’s border with other states and India’s neighbour, Nepal on March 30.

Bihar Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar admitted that there were many migrant labourers stranded at the Nepal border, but they would not be permitted to enter the state.

He further said those returning to Bihar from other states would be allowed to stay at relief centres at the border of the state.

Bihar has 16 confirmed cases of the virus, including one death, as of March 31.

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