Heart breaking photo of a bereaved Indian boy raises $43,000 in a day

A photograph of a boy weeping next to his father’s body moved Indian social media users to raise more than three million rupees ($43,829; £33,350) for his family in a day.

The picture was shared on Twitter more than 7,000 times.

Anil, 27, was a sewer worker in the capital Delhi, who died when the rope lowering him into a sewer snapped, causing him to fall inside.

By some estimates, about 100 sewer workers die in India every year.

Unions have alleged that this is because they are not given proper safety equipment.

Shiv Sunny, a reporter at The Hindustan Times, who tweeted the picture on Monday, told the BBC that he was “shaken” by the sight of the man’s grieving son, who is 11.

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.

“I am a crime reporter and I have seen a lot of tragedy. But this was something I had never seen.”

Mr Sunny said he took the photograph minutes before Anil, who only used one name, was cremated.

“I just wanted to draw attention to the deaths of sewer workers,” Mr Sunny said. “It [the photo] told the story of the family’s plight.”

He said the family could not even afford the cremation costs and had been helped by neighbours. They had also told him that Anil’s four-month-old son had died a week earlier from pneumonia, as he did not have the money to buy medicines.

Anil also had two daughters, aged seven and three.

Mr Sunny’s tweet also drew attention to the Uday foundation, a non-governmental organisation that stepped in to raise funds with the help of Ketto, a crowdfunding platform.

“That was totally unexpected,” Mr Sunny said. He added that while even Bollywood actors reached out to him to ask how they could help Anil’s family, what was really moving was that poorer people had donated sums of money as small as 10 rupees.

The numerous questions and comments about the family on social media prompted him to go back and find out more about them.

Mr Sunny also spoke to the grieving son, who told him that he would sometimes accompany his father to work and “wait outside guarding his clothes and shoes from thieves”.

“My father would say it still wasn’t yet time for me to enter the sewers,” Mr Sunny quoted the boy as saying in the Hindustan Times.

Police told the NDTV news website that an investigation into Anil’s death had revealed that the rope was not strong enough and that Anil had not been wearing protective gear.

This is the second incident involving the death of sewer workers in Delhi this month.

Five others died while cleaning a sewage treatment plant. Police alleged they were not carrying safety equipment and arrested their supervisor.

Mr Sunny is hopeful that Anil’s children will be able go to school with the money that has been raised.

“With people offering to help, [they] may have a future now,” Mr Sunny said.