Amrit Kumar was feeling feverish when his friend Mohammed Saiyub and other migrant workers boarded a truck to go home on Thursday in Surat. The two worked in different textile units but shared a room as they belonged to the same village in Basti in Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of kilometres away from Gujarat.
The paracetamol tablets they had stocked were of little help as Amrit’s condition did not improve throughout the journey atop the truck in scorching heat. When the vehicle reached Kolaras in Madhya Pradesh on Friday, Amrit’s health deteriorated. Saiyub sought medical help for his friend, but the other migrant workers and the truck driver did not want to wait for it to arrive.
As Amrit’s health continued to sink, Saiyub sat cradling his friend’s head by the roadside – an image that has gone viral on the social media. A half-empty water bottle and a red backpack lay next to the two friends. He used the water to moisten his handkerchief and place it on his friend’s forehead to lower the temperature. When an ambulance arrived a few minutes later, another image showed Saiyub move quickly to shift his friend.