From Karuna to Lockdown Yadav: Shramik trains play cradle to over three dozen newborns

Ishwari Devi has named her daughter Karuna. Reena’s son is Lockdown Yadav.

The two babies share nothing in common, except the extraordinary situation they were born in: on-board Shramik Special trains during a devastating pandemic, that has a bearing on all aspects of human lives, including the names they got.

Also read: Coronavirus lockdown | Deaths in Shramik trains not due to lack of food, water, says government

“Compassion, ‘seva bhav’,” says Karuna’s father Rajendra Yadav, explaining the name of his child when asked if ‘corona’, or ‘coronavirus’, had any influence on them while deciding the name.

“People told me to name her after the disease. How can I name her Corona when it has killed so many people and destroyed lives?” he told PTI over phone from his village in Dharampura in Chhattisgarh.

“We have named her Karuna, meaning compassion, seva bhav, which we all need during these difficult times.”

Karuna was born on-board a Shramik Special train at perhaps the most difficult times that the country has seen in decades — the COVID-19 pandemic has killed close to 7,000 people, infected nearly 2.5 lakh and upended business activities, leading to people losing their jobs and families their livelihoods.

Describing the troubled times the duo had to face back in Bhopal, where Mr. Yadav worked as a mason, he said he had no job or money on him and they were going hungry.

“I thought if I leave Bhoapl then, I will be able to make it in time for her to deliver the baby at our native place. If my wife had delivered the baby in Bhopal, how would I have fed her and the child? Now, thanks to the Railways, both my wife and daughter are healthy and fine,” he said.

Ishwari is one among more than three dozen women who battled hunger and unemployment in advance stages of their pregnancy and gave birth in unfamiliar conditions — on-board a train, their babies handled by unknown co-travellers who shared their joy.

COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

Reena, who gave birth on-board a Shramik Special train from Mumbai to Uttar Pradesh, has named her son Lockdown Yadav to forever remember the tough times he was born in.

“He was born in such a difficult situation. We want to name him Lockdown Yadav,” she said.

Another woman, Mamata Yadav, boarded the Jamnagar-Muzaffarpur Shramik Special train on May 8. Alone. She wanted to give birth with her mother by her side at her village in Chhapra district of Bihar. But, by the time her destination station in Bihar arrived she had a companion in her arms.

Mamta’s compartment was turned into a labour-room-of-sorts with other passengers moving out. A team of doctors along with railway staff supervised Mamta’s condition as she delivered a healthy baby girl, official said.

“We have a system to deal with medical emergencies, said railway spokesperson R.D. Bajpai.

“Whenever a passenger needs help, our on-board staff alerts the next station where medical aid is available and the doctors who live in railway colonies around the station are always there to deal with any emergency, he said.

Also read: Coronavirus lockdown | 26 lakh migrant workers in halfway houses, says official data

“We are happy that we managed to provide help in time every time and in each case the baby and the mother have been healthy.”

Mamta and her little one were allowed to continue their journey, officials said. Meena Kumbhar, 19, delivered a baby boy on an Odisha-bound train on June 5. The baby, the 37th child to be born on the migrant special trains, got a surprise a day later when the general manager of the East Coast Railway gave gifted him Rs 5,000.

“We want to continue this tradition. Many of our officials have come together and decided that whenever a child in born on these trains in our zone, we will give them a gift as a token of our sharing their joy,” a spokesperson for the ECoR said.

On May 18, nine-month pregnant Sangeeta boarded a Shramik Special train from Bengaluru for her hometown in Uttar Pradesh. On board, she delivered a healthy baby boy with the help of her co-passengers. Soon after, she was provided with medicines and when she reached a team of doctors awaited her with supplies. The Bangalore Police shared a photo of the baby sent to them by the couple.

On May 22, Madhu Kumari (27) delivered a baby during her journey home to Uttar Pradesh. When she went into labour, the railway staff present in the train informed the RPF. The baby was born before the train reached Jhansi Railway Station. She got medical attention at Jhansi station.

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