A baby wailed in the arms of a stranger, moments after a truck full of migrants overturned on the highway last night, killing three women. One of the women was the child's mother.
The man holding the baby, also a migrant, wondered where to leave him. "Isko yahin kahin adjust karwa doon...(should I adjust him here somewhere with some official?) How long can we take him along," he said on camera. The child's father, he said, was in Jhansi.
Seventeen people were travelling on the truck, heading to Bihar. The migrants had walked from Delhi and had climbed aboard the truck at Harpalpur, 70 km from the site of the accident.
The truck driver had agreed to give them a ride, said officials.
Late on Monday night on the Jhansi-Mirzapur highway, a tyre burst and the truck fell into a roadside ditch.
Three women between 30 and 38 years died on the spot while more than a dozen were injured.
"The truck overturned after a tyre burst. Those injured have been taken to a hospital and four of them are critical," said a senior police officer.
One of the women was holding her infant son, who miraculously survived.
The baby, perhaps missing a familiar face, didn't stop crying as TV cameras gathered at the spot.
"We gave him milk," said the man holding him, a migrant who stays nearby and is nearing the end of his journey.
Eighteen migrant workers have died in separate road accidents in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar since yesterday on their long journey home amid a nationwide lockdown to fight coronavirus.
Migrants have been leaving cities in hordes since the country went into lockdown in late March, desperate to go home after losing their jobs and shelter. To cover thousands of kilometres after the ban on public transport, the migrants have set out on foot with their families, or taken cycles or hitched rides on trucks.
UP had closed its borders on Sunday for the entry of migrants after the death of 26 labourers in Auraiya district, about 180 km from state capital Lucknow.