SAPTARI, August 14: On Sunday, a picture of a five-year-old dead child being swept away by the Koshi River in Saptari district gained widespread attention in the social media. The child has been identified as Kamalu Sada of Tilathi-Koiladi Rural Municipality-6.
Kamalu died of sickness from continuous exposure to rainfall and flooding in his remote village. As per the local culture, a dead body is supposed to be cremated. However, as all the land in their village is flooded and water-logged, the family members decided to leave Kamalu's body in the Koshi River.
Kamalu's parents, Fudan and Bilami, are devastated by the death of their child. They are inconsolable. His mother has been murmuring his name and faints while doing so. The incident has left the whole village mourning, while the whole nation has been stunned seeing the picture of Kamalu's relative guiding the boy's dead body in the Koshi River.
According to Dilasha Sadha, the victim's uncle, Kamalu died due to the lack of timely treatment. "The village was surrounded by floods from all sides. Had we been able to visit the doctor on time, the unfortunate death could have been avoided. But there was no way to seek medical treatment," he added.
Kamalu had died on Sunday morning. However, the family had taken his dead body outside the home in the evening after the water level receded.
The settlement, which is inhabited by around 100 Musahar families, has been inundated since Saturday. Most of the houses are submerged in water up to four feet. Dilasha said they have been forced to live in inundated and submerged houses for the past two days.
The Musahar community is a highly underprivileged community of the terai region. They live in small huts, which cannot withstand flood water.
"Disasters target the poor. The flood took away our homes," said Dilasha. The family expressed regrets for not being able to perform the final rites of their child as per the Hindu culture. Kamalu is the second son of Fudan and Bilami. Their eldest son Lalaku is ten years old.
Dev Narayan Yadav, former chairman of Network of Disaster Affected Communities, said, "Kamalu got ill after being drenched in flood water. He was from a financially weak family living in a settlement surrounded by water from all four sides. It is of a great concern that the child died due to not getting medical attention on time," he said.
According to Badri Narayan Jha, a civil society leader, it is high time for everyone not to make other children suffer the fate of Kamalu. "Initiatives should be taken not to let other similar incidents happen. The government should take action to avert similar incidents in the future."