Photographs of an Indian child, belonging to the Dalit caste, crying next to his father’s body initiated a social media campaign that raised almost $70, 000 to support the family.
Anil’s story surfaced when a New Delhi-based journalist tweeted an image showing the victim’s 11-year-old child weeping next to the body at a crematorium in the Indian capital. He is one of the legions of daily-wagers who make a living cleaning human waste and unclogging sewers.
The boy walked up to his father's body at a crematorium, moved the sheet from the face, held the cheeks with both hands, just said 'papa' & began sobbing.
The man was yet another poor labourer who died in a Delhi sewer on Friday. Family did not have money even for cremating him. pic.twitter.com/4nOWD9Aial
— Shiv Sunny (@shivsunny) September 17, 2018
“The boy walked up to his father’s body at a crematorium, moved the sheet from the face, held the cheeks with both hands, just said ‘papa’ & began sobbing,” wrote Shiv Sunny.
Anil was cleaning the sewers when the rope around his waist snapped. As a result, he fell into the seven-metre deep sewer. Although banned for two decades, manual scavenging is common throughout India.
“The man was yet another poor labourer who died in a Delhi sewer on Friday. The family did not have money even for cremating him,” added Sunny.
Later it was discovered that the deceased had lost a baby boy to pneumonia just six days before he died. An Indian newspaper quoted the 11-year-old Gaurav recalling his father saying that it was not time for him to enter sewers yet.
Sunny’s tweet, with over 31, 000 retweets and 18, 000 hearts, garnered sympathy and moved people to crowdfund to help the family.
Plz donate and spread the word. https://t.co/q3ukaLZwBp
— manoj bajpayee (@BajpayeeManoj) September 17, 2018
It also brought flak for ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swacch Bharat Campaign.
Anil’s tragic death in the sewers of Delhi & photographs of his grieving son have made headlines worldwide. Our PM’s “Swacch Bharat” is a hollow slogan, when he’s blind to the plight of thousands of manual scavengers forced to excavate toilets & sewer lines in inhuman conditions. https://t.co/wwaaNKzGc2
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 19, 2018
— Amitabh Behar (@AmitabhBehar) September 18, 2018
This article originally appeared on Al Jazeera.