Our Bodies As Evidence
100 Indians We Lost To Covid
Faced with a devastating pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would like Indians to focus on ‘positivity’, such as recovery statistics, instead of funeral pyres. But the 300,000 dead—officially; unofficially, more than a million—are not just data but human beings. They are fellow citizens who died waiting for hospital beds, medicines and for their government to act. Here we remember 100 of them. Their stories remind us of what was lost to friends, family and country.
Words: Saranya Nayak & Maisah Irfan | Art: Tara Anand
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1. Rangilal, 45
Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh
For 20 years, Rangilal’s coffee and paan shop at Gorakhpur’s Prem Chand Park was a favourite haunt for the city’s theatre artists. His customers were friends. On 21 April, Rangilal was rushed to the hospital after his oxygen levels plunged. He succumbed to Covid a week later. On 28 April, all shops in Prem Chand Park were shut as a mark of mourning.
2. Dimple Arora, 34
On Mother’s Day, 11 May, Ravish Chawla retweeted a video of his wife Dimple—made nine days before she lost the battle to Covid-19. “I was so active but my body is giving up now,” the Delhi-based dentist, who was seven months pregnant, said. The couple didn’t do a CT scan of her lungs, as she feared it might harm the baby. Arora lost her child and died a day later, on 26 April, leaving behind a three-year-old son.
3. Mumtaz, 40
Mumtaz, a single mother, was a domestic worker in Bengaluru. As her oxygen levels fell, three hospitals refused to admit her, The New Indian Express reported. The first hospital said there were no beds. The second would not admit her until her Covid test result came. The third would not give her emergency first aid unless she paid Rs 40,000. She died on 18 April, en route to the fourth hospital. Mumtaz is survived by her two children.
4. Birendra Mehta, 46
"We sold two of our goats for Rs 11,000 and our cow for Rs 10,000 to arrange money for my parents' treatment," Soni Kumari, 18, from Bihar’s Araria district told The Print. Despite spending Rs 2,50,000, she and her siblings—a sister, 12, and brother, 14,—could not save their parents. Their father Birendra's small medicine shop is locked now. On 27 April, he and his wife tested positive for Covid. After being moved between three hospitals, Birendra died on 3 May.
5. Priyanka Devi, 38
Soni Kumari, 18, from Bihar’s Araria district, and her siblings lost their mother Priyanka to Covid-19 four days after their father succumbed. After their father's death, people were reluctant to lend them money. "We were forced to discontinue our mother’s treatment at the Raniganj hospital, and she too passed away on 7 May,” Soni told The Print. The state gave the family Rs 400,000 as compensation. Neighbours advised against cremation so the siblings buried their mother in the fields next to their father. “We can’t figure out anything anymore,” said Soni’s 12-year-old sister.
6. Rahul Vohra, 35
On 4 May, YouTuber and actor Rahul Vora posted on Facebook that he was Covid positive and languishing in the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital in Tahirpur with no improvement. He was moved to a Delhi hospital on 8 May but died on 9 May. Vora, who started his career with theatre, had a large following for his videos on social issues. A day before he died, he said, “I will soon be born again and I will do good work. Now I have lost all courage.”
7. Pradip Choudhuri, 78
Kolkata, West Bengal
One of the most important poets of Bengal’s iconic Hungry Generation literary movement of the 1960s, Choudhuri died of Covid-19 on 25 April. His lifelong friend, French poet Bruno Sourdin called the trilingual Choudhuri “the sacred fire of Bengal”. Choudhuri was born in East Bengal, modern-day Bangladesh. “In the ceaseless flux of birth and events,” he once wrote, “no future awaits me.” He is survived by his son, daughter-in-law and a granddaughter.
8. Sunil Das, 65
A Sanskrit school teacher, Das died on 24 April at his home, four days into isolation after returning from the Kumbh mela. His body lay at home unattended for 12 hours because relatives and neighbours were scared to cremate him, even though his wife asked for help, the Telegraph newspaper reported. Finally, the local administration intervened.
9. Mohammad Anish, 43
An undertrial prisoner in Tihar Jail since December 2019 in a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Anish tested positive for Covid-19 on 26 April and died in a hospital on 27 April. He was the third prisoner to die of the coronavirus in Delhi since the pandemic began in 2020.
10. Vira Sathidar, 61
A lifelong anti-caste activist, he died of Covid-19 complications on 13 April at a hospital in Nagpur. His life and work closely resembled the character he played in the critically acclaimed Court (2014). Even after the film's success, he was raided and harassed by the police for his political activism. He was a poet, writer, singer and editor of the Marathi magazine, Vidrohi. “Song and dance was a weapon of our fight," he once said. It still is.”
11. Renoj J Thayyen, 53
A senior scientist at National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, Thayyen researched glaciers and climate change in Ladakh. He had recently returned from a field trip in the Himalayas and tested positive for Covid. He passed away on 22 April at the All India Institute of Medical Science, Rishikesh.
12. Yousuf Beg, 52
Panna, Madhya Pradesh
Beg was an environmental and labour activist who headed a union of mineworkers afflicted with workplace diseases like silicosis in this diamond-rich district. He also worked with forest-dwelling communities in and around the Panna Tiger Reserve. He displayed symptoms of Covid in mid-April and could not get to a health facility for five days. After his condition deteriorated, he was referred to a hospital in Satna, 75 km away, where he died on 17 April.
13. Mahavir Narwal, 71
An agricultural scientist and father of jailed Pinjra Tod activist Natasha Narwal died of Covid-19 related complications on 9 May after battling the disease for nearly a week. Natasha, incarcerated in Tihar Jail since 23 May 2020, had filed a bail plea to meet her ailing father but by the time the court ordered her release, it was too late. “I’m growing old, maybe I won’t get to see her," he had told Karwan-E-Mohabbat. "We just console our hearts by saying good things.”
14. Kadloor Savitri, 52
The head of the department of political science at Jamia Millia Islamia, Savitri succumbed to Covid-19 in the early hours of 22 April at a Faridabad hospital. Her research focussed on issues of identity, equality and non-discrimination. Savitri is survived by her daughter and husband.
15. Vinay Srivastava, 65
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
“My father always helped people, spent all his earnings helping those in distress during the pandemic,” said Srivastava’s son Harshit about the veteran journalist, who tweeted his plumetting oxygen levels in a desperate search for help. “We ran from pillar to post, but could not get an oxygen cylinder for him,” Harshit told The Print. Hospitals refused to admit Srivastava without a letter from the chief medical officer. He died at home on 17 April.
16. Parul Devi Das, 71
Das was the first woman IAS officer from Assam. Born and brought up in Shillong, she served in both Assam and Meghalaya before retiring as additional chief secretary of Assam in 2010. She died on 26 April at Guwahati’s Apollo Hospital from Covid-19.
17. Nehal Rathwa, 22
A physiotherapy student, Rathwa died of Covid-19 at the state-run Sir Sayajirao General (SSG) Hospital on 23 April. Fellow students alleged that she was forced to work in the Covid ward despite her hyperthyroidism and diabetes. A friend told Our Vadodara, Rathwa lay on a mattress for nine hours before she was moved to a bed. Reena Shah, the acting HOD of physiotherapy at SSG admitted the hospital “missed” a check for pre-existing conditions.
18. P C Zoram Sangliana, 65
Former minister for art and culture, Congress MLA from Mizoram's Kolasib constituency for a decade and former president of the powerful Young Mizo Association, Mizoram’s largest non-profit, Sangliana tested positive for Covid-19 on 14 April. He had comorbidities (diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic bronchitis) when hospitalised and died on 8 May in Aizwal.
19. Mussarat Ansari, 54
Khairabad, Mau, Uttar Pradesh
Ansari, a home-maker, died on 24 April. Her children said she was a doting mother who knew how to create a feast for a 100 in a few hours from a few inexpensive ingredients. “Perhaps, as we never had too much, she never asked me for anything,” said her husband Haji Nisar Ahmad, president of the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (Marginalised Muslim Front), representing backward caste and Dalit Muslims. “In the end, I could not even give her oxygen.”
20. Shankha Ghosh, 89
Kolkata, West Bengal
A legendary Bengali poet and fierce political critic, Ghosh was a recipient of the Padma Bhushan and Jnanpith awards. “He was soft-spoken but his pen was razor-sharp, always speaking against intolerance,” poet Subodh Sarkar told the Press Trust of India. Ghosh had many comorbidities and stayed at home, isolated, when he tested positive for Covid-19. He died on 21 April, followed by his wife a week later. He is survived by two daughters.
21. Pratima Ghosh, 89
Kolkata, West Bengal
On 29 April, eight days after her husband Shankha Ghosh’s died, Pratima succumbed to Covid-19 at their home where she had been isolating with her husband. She taught Bengali at a college for several years and was a published author. The couple, married for 65 years, met in university. She is survived by two daughters.
22. Haseena Bhat, 53
Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir
On 20 April, Umer Farooq Bhat’s mother, father and brother tested positive for Covid-19. Afraid he would not be able to take care of his family if he too tested positive, Umer, 23, did not take a test. Two days later, his mother Haseena was rushed to a government hospital. Umer recalled to Al Jazeera how at least three people died in her ward, fine one minute, dead the next. Umer tried but could not arrange oxygen to save his mother. She died in his arms on 26 April.
23. Aiyushman Dutta, 35
Dutta was the feature editor of Melange, the Sunday supplement of the Sentinel newspaper. He was also the founder of Eastern Beats Music Society and the Guwahati International Music Festival. According to The Wire, Dutta could not get critical Covid medicines on time. He died on 26 April. Dutta is survived by his parents and elder brother.
24. Dr. Manisha Jadhav, 51
Jadhav was chief medical officer at the Sewri TB Hospital in Mumbai, one of 13 doctors honored by the governor for their efforts during the first wave. She had recently become interested in photography. She died on 19 April. The day before, she posted on Facebook, "May be last Good Morning. I may not meet you here on this platform. Take care all. Body dies. Soul doesn’t. Soul is immortal." Jadhav is survived by her husband, two sisters and a son.
25. Ambarish Rai, 61
A social activist, Rai died on 23 April from Covid-like symptoms at a hospital after being driven around in an ambulance for hours, as loved ones struggled to find a hospital bed. Delays were also because he had not received his Covid test result. Mitra Ranjan, Rai’s long-time friend, said the system Rai fought to improve had failed him. Rai dedicated the last 11 years of his life to the cause of free and compulsory primary education for all children.
26. Jagdish Kumar Mishra, 85
Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
Mishra, a senior doctor at Swarup Rani Nehru hospital in Allahabad, died after he could not get a ventilator at the hospital where he served for five decades. “My husband was without oxygen support for 20 minutes. A diseased healthcare system killed him, not Covid-19,” Dr Rama Misra told Gulf News. “As someone who gave the hospital 50 years of his life, my husband deserved better.”
27. Radhakrishna Muralidhar, 63
Murali ‘Sir’, manager, first employee and, in the editor’s words, “the guardian at the gates” of The Wire, died on 26 April in the intensive care unit of a Delhi hospital. After a lifetime of service at the Times of India, he joined The Wire after retirement, monitoring finances, ensuring corporate compliances, fixing dodgy Internet and inducting new employees. He was, the editor wrote, a deeply religious man and a disciplinarian.
28. Arpita Bhuvnesh, 26
A young business product manager at Flipkart, Arpita died on 21 April. She contracted the virus while trying to arrange medical help for her Covid-positive father. He died a fortnight after she did. Arpita’s former classmate Medhavi Arora tweeted how just a few weeks ago, Arpita had begged for plasma on Facebook for her father. “Arpita died,” Arora wrote, “trying to arrange resources that should’ve been readily available.”
29. Ram Bhuvnesh, 61
Father of Arpita and Shreeya Bhuvnesh, he passed away fighting Covid-19 on 6 May at a hospital in Delhi, a fortnight after the death of his daughter Arpita from the same disease.
30. Kalawati Bhuriya, 49
Indore, Madhya Pradesh
Bhuriya, a tribal leader and Congress legislator from Jobat, died on 24 April after battling Covid-19 for a fortnight at an Indore hospital. She was panchayat president of Jhabua and Alirajpur districts for several years. "She was an active, gutsy, strong willed and friendly legislator," state Congress chief Kamal Nath tweeted.
31. Rezaul Haq, 46
Kolkata, West Bengal
Haq was the Congress candidate from Samsherganj Assembly constituency in Murshidabad district, West Bengal. He was admitted to a private hospital in Jangipur after he struggled to breathe, moving to a medical facility in Kolkata as his condition deteriorated. He died on 15 April, before polling day.
32. Kakoli Bhattacharya, 51
Journalist, researcher and news assistant for the UK-based The Guardian newspaper, Kakoli Bhattacharya died of Covid-19 on 23 April. Hannah Ellis-Petersen, the Guardian’s South Asia correspondent, said Bhattacharya had the best contact book in the business. “Make sure Kakoli is happy,” was the advice passed down between generations of Guardian reporters in the city. She is survived by her husband and two children.
33. Kishan Rungta, 89
A former chief selector of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Rungta succumbed to Covid-19 at a hospital in Jaipur on 1 May. During his tenure, he had suggested the idea of recording selection meetings to ensure transparency. Rungta played first-class cricket for Maharashtra and Rajasthan from 1953-54 to 1969-70.
34. Vivek Bendre, 59
A senior photojournalist with The Hindu newspaper and a father figure to many photographers, Bendre was president of the Bombay News Photographers Association. He died on 25 April of Covid-related complications. His colleagues said the Girgaum resident was a large-hearted mentor, always ready to help newcomers.
35. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, 96
The Indian Islamic scholar, peace activist, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awardee, Khan died on 21 April at Delhi’s Apollo Hospital due to Covid-19. His three-point formula for success was simple, his grandson wrote in Outlook magazine: Education, education, education. Khan is survived by two sons and two daughters.
36. Sudhanshu Kumar Jain, 95
Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh
The son of a farmer, Jain was schooled by tutors at home. The former director of the Botanical Survey of India established ethnobotany and inspired scientists to document traditional knowledge. He died on 20 April. Former student Arvind Saklani wrote how Jain would call students home every evening to discuss science and other topics and meet visiting scientists. “Dr. Jain would ensure that every student was introduced to the guest,” he wrote.
37. Amjad Badshah, 45
Media educator, journalist and consulting editor of NFTV and The Sociocrat magazine, Badshah died of Covid-19 at a hospital in Rourkela on 25 April. He tested positive for Covid-19 on April 7. When his condition deteriorated, Badshah was moved to the Rourkela Covid hospital, where he died, while in the intensive care unit. He is survived by his wife, a four-year-old daughter and two-month-old son.
38. Kalyani Agrahari, 27
Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh
Agrahari, an assistant teacher, was eight months pregnant, when she was forced to report for panchayat election duty on 15 April, despite requesting an exemption. She was told she would face a police case and lose her salary if she did not do as ordered. After election duty, Kalyani contracted a fever and her oxygen levels fell. She died at a Jaunpur hospital on 24 April, two days before her third wedding anniversary. Her death certificate said she was Covid-positive.
39. Pt. Rajan Mishra, 70
A renowned Hindustani classical vocalist and Padma Bhushan awardee whose musical roots go back seven generations, Mishra died of Covid-19 complications on 25 April. He had a cardiac arrest while his family struggled to find him a ventilator. He is survived by his wife and three children.
40. Rupal Thakkar, 48
Thakkar died in Shalby Hospital, Ahmedabad, on 17 April. Relatives alleged negligence by hospital authorities. The hospital initially listed cardiac arrest as the cause of death but issued a second death certificate mentioning Covid-19, after local newspaper reports. Thakkar is survived by her husband and two-year-old daughter.
41. Rev. Father Lijo Thomas, 38
Former public relations officer of the Archdiocese of Nagpur, Father Thomas died on 23 April, after less than a decade as a priest. He had a masters in journalism. Father Thomas had also served as secretary to the Archbishop of Nagpur. When he was taken for a CT-scan after testing positive for Covid-19, doctors said he did not need hospitalisation. He was getting better, appearing cheerful and normal, before his condition deteriorated.
42. Kajal Kamat, 18
Kamat died of Covid-19 in Delhi on 24 April. She had trouble breathing but no other symptoms. “The doctors called us on video, and we saw that she couldn’t breathe. A few hours later they called again, to tell us she was no more,” her uncle Inder Kamat told Newslaundry outside the hospital. “I still can’t believe it.”
43. Kaushalya Rana, 62
Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh
Rana taught Hindi at a school in Dhanaura Silvernagar village in Baghpat, UP. She was the school’s first woman teacher and went on to become its principal. One of her students, Sunil Kashyap, a journalist with Caravan magazine, remembers her as an inspirational figure, constantly seeking to motivate those she taught. Rana died of Covid-19, two weeks after her retirement.
44. Ravindra Santram Bansode, 38
An activist who tracked the state’s Ambedkarite movements, Bansode died on 24 April. A victim of caste atrocities in his teens, he was determined to fight against caste violence and had worked on the issue for two decades. Due to Covid-19, he was hospitalised for around three weeks at Jahangir hospital in Pune. He suffered a brain stroke and, after an operation, lost his eyesight and was partially paralysed. He is survived by his young daughter and wife.
45. Mohammad Iqbal, 53
Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
Iqbal, a founding member of PAGIR (People’s Action Group for Inclusion and Rights) would always explain his organisation’s powerful work in simple terms: an attempt to improve the everyday life of people with disabilities. Iqbal had a rare congenital disorder which left him immobile, unable to sit up except when propped up in bed, or in a wheelchair. The recipient of several awards, including the Helen Keller Award in 2010, he died of Covid-19 on 7 May.
46. Maha Basheer, 25
Basheer, a doctor, was married for only eight months and was being treated for Covid-19 in Mangaluru where she died on 27 April. She was five-months pregnant; her unborn child could not be saved. Born and raised in the UAE, Basheer had moved to India to study medicine. “She was very good at studies and wanted to be a surgeon,” her uncle Nasnas told the Khaleej Times. Basheer was laid to rest in her hometown of Thalassery, Kerala.
47. Asha A Kothari, 74
“My mother was Covid+ but we did not get admission in civil or private hospitals. We tried to call an ambulance but it did not turn up for 4 days,” Bhavesh A Kothari told Article 14. “Soon we ran out of oxygen. I looked for a place to refill the oxygen, but there was no stock and I was in line. In the meantime my mother passed away due to lack of oxygen.”
48. Suryaji Sayaji Mote, 58
Mote was an archaeologist. He was hospitalised for a few days in Nagpur before succumbing to Covid-19. He is survived by his daughter and wife.
49. Kamran Khan, 32
The metropolitan magistrate held his last virtual hearing on 18 April, even though lawyers begged him to rest, after he was recently discharged from hospital. Khan was readmitted and died on 27 April after a week on ventilator support. He enjoyed playing cricket with junior lawyers. “He used to help out even the accused persons who would not turn up with their sureties and take mercy on them,” Dhir Singh Kasana, secretary, Saket District Court, told The Indian Express
50. Tanmoy Chakraborty, 39
Chakraborty, a journalist, died of Covid-19-related complications at a hospital in Agartala on 25 April. After testing positive for Covid-19 on 16 April, he was admitted to the Tripura Medical College for a liver ailment. Five days later he tested negative but just before he was a liver surgery, he had a cardiac arrest. He is survived by his parents, wife and a five-year-old daughter.
51. Shravan Rathod, 66
Rathod, one half of the famed Nadeem-Shravan duo, composed many 1990s Bollywood hits. His friend Wajid Khan described Rathod as a flamboyant man who liked to dress up. “He had a certain swag to him,” said Khan. Rathod and his wife liked going on pilgrimages, getting “VIP darshans”. His son tried to dissuade them from going to the Kumbh Mela, but they went. Both tested positive for the coronavirus. He died on 22 April after feeling breathless.
52. Pradip Bijalwan, 60
Bijalwan worked for the Centre for Equity Studies’ street medicine programme in Delhi. He led a team that offered medical services to homeless people. He ran Covid clinics for the homeless, to counter the near-complete lack of official Covid testing and treatment. When he tested positive for Covid-19, Bijalwan could not find a hospital bed with oxygen. He died on 23 April.
53. Father Bimal Nayak, 35
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
A young missionary from Kandhamal, Odisha, Nayak died of Covid-19 in Varanasi, where he had travelled for his ministry. He was taken to the hospital of the Banaras Hindu University, where treatment did not work, despite his young age. “He was no longer ours, but God’s,” his uncle, Father Prados Chandra Nayak, told Angelus News. “Bimal was an extraordinary minister,” said Father Prem Anthony. “He worked as if he knew he did not have much time left.”
54. Sayeeda Bano Ladakhi, 50
Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
Ladakhi’s village in Chuchot block, 15 km from Leh, was an early Covid hotspot in May 2020. People recalled she urged the administration to contain the spread of Covid-19 and organized awareness drives. Many found it cruel and ironic that she succumbed to the disease a year later. The trade unionist, women’s rights activist and member of the Autonomous Hill Development Council died on 10 May at the Sonam Norboo Memorial Hospital in Leh.
55. Soli Sorabjee, 91
A veteran lawyer and two-time attorney general, Sorabjee was awarded the Padma Vibhushan for his defence of freedom of speech and the protection of human rights. Jazz was his first love: Dizzy Gillespie was a dinner guest and Benny Goodman, a favourite since age 18. Sorabjee passed away due to Covid-19 on 30 April.
56. Zubair Ali, 32
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Ali, junior resident doctor and neurosurgeon at King George’s Medical University (KGMU), Lucknow, died of Covid-19 related complications on 15 April. He had been treating Covid patients at the hospital for over a year. Ali’s colleagues alleged that he was subjected to frequent duty in high-risk areas without proper protective gear.
57. Satish Kaul, 74
Kaul worked in over 300 Punjabi and Hindi films and TV shows, including the Mahabharat, where he played Lord Indra. In 2011, the closure of his acting school led to financial ruin. He moved to an old-age home, then an ashram, from where a fan, Satya Devi, took him home. Kaul didn’t mind that people had forgotten him, he said it was enough he had received their love. He died on 10 April.
58. Sanjivi Sundar, 82
Sundar started his civil service career in Gujarat, worked at the Commonwealth Secretariat, and retired as union transport secretary. After retirement, he started teaching and became an expert on regulatory reform, sustainable transport and road safety. Despite suffering from Parkinsons, he served on a Supreme Court committee on road safety, helping save lakhs of lives. He loved dogs, icecream and meeting people. He passed away due to Covid-19 on 30 April.
59. Ramu Kanagal, 53
Son of legendary Kannada filmmaker Puttanna Kanagal, Ramu was a dancer and the founder of Kanagal Nrithyalaya in Bengaluru. Growing up, Ramu and his sister Triveni sang and danced to "just about any tune", after which their father enrolled them in a dance school. They opened a dance school together, which he ran after she joined IBM. "He was literally married to dance," she said. He struggled to find a hospital bed with oxygen and died on 28 April.
60. Chandro ‘Shooter Dadi’ Tomar, 89
Meerut, Uttar Pradesh
A native of Baghpat district, Tomar was 65 when she picked up the gun for the first time. Steady of hand, sharp of eye, she went on to win many national competitions and inspired the 2019 Bollywood film Saand ki Aankh. "The body may be old but the mind is not," she said in 2018. Tomar died on 30 April, four days after she was hospitalised. She found breathing difficult and tested positive for Covid-19.
61. Dhammachari Amoghbhadar, 51
Dhammachari Amoghbhadar was an energetic man. He was a Karate black belt and a good orator. He was dedicated to spreading Buddha-Dharma-Sangha (in Buddhism, three expressions of the awakened mind) across India. He was hospitalised for a month and died on 24 April 2021 of a Covid infection that led to cardiac complications. He is survived by his wife and 18-year-old son.
62. Father Prasanna Pradhan, 59
Pradhan was vicar general of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. Originally from the tribal belt of Kandhamal, he served his ministry in many villages and was known for his rapport with villagers. His parents had not seen him since March 2020 due to the first lockdown and Covid-19 restrictions. A scholar with a doctorate in biblical sciences from Rome, Pradhan died on 25 April.
63. Pandit Devabrata Chaudhuri, 85
A sitar maestro, Chaudhuri was a torchbearer of the Senia gharana, the recipient of numerous honours, including the Padmabhushan, the Padmashree and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. A disciple of Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan, Chaudhuri once said, “A virtuous and wise musician lets his art speak for itself.” In April, he was admitted to a Delhi hospital after he tested positive for Covid-19. He died early on 1 May.
64. Prateek Chaudhuri, 49
Chaudhuri was a professor at the department of music at Delhi University. He was admitted to a Delhi hospital after Covid-related complications. He died on 6 May, a few days after his father, music maestro Pandit Devbrata Chaudhuri, succumbed to the virus. He is survived by his wife and two children.
65. Y P Vohra, 92
Former hockey player, umpire and administrator, he was one of those responsible for the creation of the Chandigarh Olympic Association in the 1970s. "Vohra was a rare combination of a good player and a man of high integrity," said S K Gupta, former director of sports, Punjab University. He was a lover of Urdu shayri, a father figure to many young players, and belonged once to the Rock Rovers Club, one of India’s oldest hockey institutions. He died on 30 April.
66. Thamira, 53
Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Born Sheikh Dawood near Tirunelveli, Thamira was a Tamil filmmaker. His directorial debut Rettaisuzhi was in 2010. His web series, The Perfect Husband, was due to be released on Disney Hotstar. He passed away on 27 April in a private hospital in Chennai. He is survived by a daughter and three sons.
67. Anirban Bora, 42
Bora was a graphic editor for The Economic Times in New Delhi, known for his witty political cartoons. "He didn’t understand half-heartedness, or the need to play things safe, and aired his frustrations many times about the narrow confines most of the world chose to stay in," wrote colleague Indrajit Hazra. During his last days, Bora said to Hazra: "I’ve made a mistake, I wasn’t careful enough. I’ve got Covid." He died on 1 May, survived by his wife and son.
68. Prema Devi, 45
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
45 year-old Prema Devi was a cleaner at a hospital in Lucknow for almost 20 years. When she contracted Covid-19, overcrowded government hospitals turned her away. Her family was too poor to afford private care. Her sons, both daily wage earners, tried to care for her at home, but could not find the oxygen she needed. Prema Devi died on 8 April.
69. Nishaan Singh, 48
Singh had been at the Tikri border of India’s capital until 9 April, involved with the farmers’ protests against the Centre’s contentious farm laws. He had come home for the sowing and harvesting seasons. He was Covid positive and died on 28 April at his home in Kakar Khurd village. He leaves behind a wife, two sons and a daughter.
70. Bhitali Das, 41
Through a career spanning 20 years, Das sang, in a high, lilting voice, over 5,000 songs celebrating Bihu, a harvest festival marking a shift in the sun’s solstice. They called her Bihu rani, the queen of Bihu. She died on 21 April. “Thousands of songs, lakhs of stories, uncountable memories we shared together,” said Zubeen Garg, who often sang with her. Das is survived by her husband and daughter.
71. Lalit Behl, 71
An actor, producer and director, Behl began his career in theatre while at college. He was known best for two roles, as an abusive patriarch in the 2014 film Titli and for the 2017 movie Mukti Bhawan, where he played the role of a widower who goes to Varanasi convinced his time has come. Behl died on 23 April, survived by his son and wife.
72. Raju Modak (Dhammachari Prassan Mitra), 51
A teacher in a village near Nagpur, Modak was a calm and compassionate man who worked hard to fulfil the dream of a casteless society. He was instrumental in establishing a Buddhist center in north Nagpur. Modak did not get a bed in any Nagpur hospital, so his family decided to take him to Wardha. He died en route on 20 April. Modak is survived by his wife and a 24-year-old son.
73. Pradeep Kumar Thapa, 43
Thapa was a Kargil war veteran, a commando from 9 PARA (Special Forces) and was awarded the Sena medal for gallantry. He served from 1998 to 2018, when an accident during a combat free fall left him paralysed from the waist down. He was discharged from the Army and died of Covid-19 on 1 May. He leaves behind his wife, a daughter in class 11 and a son in class 5.
74. RK Himthani, 62
The head of the gastroenterology department at south Delhi’s Batra hospital. Himthani was among 12 Covid patients in the intensive care unit who died on 1 May after oxygen supply was disrupted for over an hour. “We lost a cheerful and smiling face today not because of the virus but due to LACK OF OXYGEN!” orthopaedic surgeon Tushar Mehta tweeted.
75. Ashish Yechury, 34
“Ashish was the son of one of the country’s top political leaders, but you would never know it speaking with him or working with him,” wrote a colleague at Newslaundry. “He was...mindful of his privilege and guarded against misusing it.” After appearing to recover, Ashish succumbed on 22 April. Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), tweeted about his son 'Biku': “I thank everyone who gave us strength to be able to face this dark hour.”
76. Mohammad Zeyaul Haque, 72
Fondly known as “Zeya Saheb” by his friends and colleagues, Haque had a long and illustrious career as a journalist and editor. He worked for the Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, which he had been associated with for many years. He was from Bihar and died on 22 April from Covid-related complications.
77. Aswathi Unnikrishnan, 24
Aswathi, a lab technician, was a closet poet who dreamed of “making it big,” her father told the New Indian Express. Aswathi suffered from kidney-related ailments, but that did not slow her down. “Everybody should pray for me. What else can I say?” she said, smiling, in a video after she fell sick. The first health worker from the district to succumb to Covid, she died on 26 April, despite having had both doses of the vaccine, while being taken to hospital.
78. K J Devasia, 61
Devasia was the vice principal of St Xavier's School in Delhi. A popular administrator, he was the school's key link with alumni. He was responding well to treatment for Covid-19 and was stable, until the oxygen in his north Delhi hospital ran out on 2 May. Other hospitals said they had no ICU beds and no oxygen. He is survived by his wife and two daughters, who graduated from the same school.
79. Satya Prakash Dutt, 82
A former Air India official, Dutt died from Covid-19 complications on 27 April. “The kindest, loveliest man I have ever known, my father, Speedy, lost the COVID battle and died this morning,” Dutt’s eldest daughter and journalist Barkha Dutt tweeted. “When I took him to hospital, against his will, I promised I would bring him home in two days. I couldn’t keep my word.”
80. Mirza Abdul Azeem, 56
Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh
After spending his youth working in the Middle East, Azeem was living alone in Greater Noida, taking care of the home and office of a Taiwanese engineer. A kind, generous man, Azeem was well regarded by his neighbours who benefitted from the organic vegetables he grew on a small patch of land near his home. He died alone, unable to summon help when his Covid symptoms worsened.
81. Ritu Pathak, 57
Pathak was the principal of G D Goenka Signature School at Sohna in Gurgaon. With 30 years of experience in school education, she had been the principal of various G D Goenka schools over 14 years. She died from Covid-associated complications on 5 May. She is survived by her husband and adult son.
82. Umesh Nazir, 49
Umesh Nazir was a writer, journalist and anti-displacement activist with the Jharkhand-based Bindrai Institute for Research, Study and Action and the editor of the newsletter Khan, Khaneej, Adhikar (Mines, Minerals and Rights). He helped urban bastis (settlements) in Ranchi during the 2020 lockdown. He died after contracting Covid in late-April because a bed in an intensive care unit could not be arranged in time.
83. Murli Devi, 92
Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh
Murli Devi was 33 when her husband, Raj Bahadur Yadav, a soldier, died fighting the Indo-China War of 1962. Her children spoke of their mother’s courage and the sacrifices she made to bring them up. Growing up, they had no sense of this struggle, since she ensured there was always music and laughter at home. At 92, she was fit and joked about her 100th birthday. She died of Covid-19 on 13 April.
84. Rizwan Qaiser, 60
Renowned historian and former head of Jamia Millia Islamia’s History department, Qaiser lost the battle to Covid-19 on 1 May. He taught at least two generations of students at Jamia and had written many notable books. “… [We] were in opposing political formations… we used to argue, debate and differ. But then, we agreed that the world should not be left to remain as unequal and unjust as it is when we leave… he did live up to that.” tweeted academician V. Krishna Ananth.
85. Bakul Tank, 50
Tank worked in the construction industry and had helped over 40 construction-worker families with food, water, shelter and half their wages during India’s first wave of Covid. Friends remember him as someone who helped anyone who sought assistance, human or animal. A diabetic, he died on 14 April, after a sudden drop in oxygen levels and the inability to find a hospital bed in time. Tank leaves behind his wife and 10-year-old son.
86. Gopal Yadav, 40
Yadav was a security guard known for helping others. He fell ill on 24 April with symptoms of Covid-19. A few days later, his oxygen levels plunged, but hospitals were reluctant to admit him because he had not been tested. A local hospital finally admitted him, but he died on 30 April. A neighbour said people in the village were reluctant to get tested. Yadav is survived by his wife and two schoolgoing children.
87. Subhadra Sen Gupta, 68
The writer of over 50 children's books, Sen Gupta died on 3 May. She was the winner of the Bal Sahitya Puraskar in 2014 and the Big Little Book Award in 2020. Friend and editor Sudeshna Shome Ghosh told The Indian Express how Subhadra was always full of ideas to excite young minds. “In all the time I have known her, I have never seen Subhadra ill," said Delhi-based illustrator and long-time friend Tapas Guha. "I still cannot believe that she is gone.”
88. Vaman Digha, 35
An Adivasi, Digha died on 3 May. He had Covid-19 symptoms for over a week before a hospital took him in. His family did not have the resources to tweet, post on Instagram or otherwise ask for help. They failed to find oxygen, a hospital and medicines. “He wasn’t given oxygen properly. The hospital was unclean, there was a bed but without a bedsheet on it,” Vaman’s brother-in-law told PARI Network.
89. P K Sen, 80
Like the tigers he served, “PK”, as he was affectionately known, was large hearted—lending a hand and an ear to anyone in need, mentoring young conservations, welcoming friend and foe into his home for a warm meal or a cool drink. For decades, he served India’s natural heritage and local communities. As field director of the Palamu Tiger Reserve (1993-95), at great personal risk, he faced down insurgents, timber and poaching mafias and persuaded the then chief minister of Bihar to cancel a dam that would have drowned the core of the reserve. As director of Project Tiger, he warned India that it was losing a tiger a day and that an area more than three times the size of Kerala had been lost to encroachment and “development” since 1973. After retirement he kept working to preserve India’s last wild areas, until Covid-19 finally stopped him.
90. Karna Malleswara Rao, 39
Prakasam, Andhra Pradesh
Rao was from a traditional weaving family in Jandrapeta village. He was known for weaving exquisite Kanchi and Kuppadam Kadi sari borders and was an expert stone and metal carver. “With the loss of every artisan like Karna Malleswara, India loses a bit of its cultural heritage,” said Mohan Rao Macherla, convenor of the National Federation of Handlooms and Handicrafts. Rao died on 26 April. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
91. Aziz Faisal, 44
Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh
Faisal was an assistant professor at the Centre for Women’s Studies at Aligarh Muslim University. An erudite, well-read and engaging scholar, he was popular with students. He died of Covid-related complications on 25 April after he failed to get a hospital bed with oxygen.
92. Karuna Shukla, 70
Shukla was a member of the 14th Lok Sabha, representing the Janjgir-Champa constituency. Niece of the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Shukla quit the BJP after a 32-year-long association and joined the Congress in 2014. She died on 27 April while being treated for Covid-19.
93. Pintso Bhutia, 29
An eminent social worker, Bhutia was in hospital with suspected tuberculosis, when he was moved to a Covid intensive care unit when his condition worsened. He died on 10 May. In March, Bhutia organised a football tournament when the state achieved near normalcy after the first Covid wave. He wanted to encourage Sikkimese footballers after local competitive football had stuttered to a halt due to the pandemic.
94. P Shanmugapriya, 32
Madurai, Tamil Nadu
A medical officer at a primary healthcare centre, Shanmugapriya was eight months pregnant and treating Covid-19 patients, when she developed Covid-like symptoms. The first test was negative. She applied for maternity leave in late April and was admitted to hospital when she tested positive for coronavirus. Shanmugapriya couldn't take the vaccine as she was pregnant. She died on 1 May. Doctors coud not save her baby.
95. Thakur Puran Singh, 85
Rajouri, Jammu & Kashmir
A Kumbh mela returnee, Singh was a prominent pahari leader from the BJP and a former legislator and minister who, before 2014, belonged to the Congress party. He died due to Covid-19 on 22 April, while being taken to a hospital outside J&K.
96. Vinod Kumar Bansal, 71
Educationist and the founding father of Bansal Classes in Kota, the man responsible for making this tiny Rajasthan city the coaching hub of India for IIT aspirants, died fighting Covid-19 on 3 May. After testing positive, four days before he died, Bansal tested negative. Comorbidities, including muscular dystrophy, caused his condition to deteriorate quickly. For 35 years, said his son Sameer, Vinod "did not think about anything other than his students".
97. Jagdish Lad, 34
An international bodybuilder, who won silver medals at the World Championship and the Mr India competition, Lad moved to Baroda from Navi Mumbai a few years ago to manage a local gym. Colleagues said he had struggled financially in the pandemic. He died on 30 April after being diagnosed with Covid-19, the second competitive Indian bodybuilder to die after Manoj Lakhan. Lad is survived by his wife and daughter.
98. Chiranjeevi, 35
An employee with a farm well driller, Chiranjeevi ran a fever for a few days and did not improve despite medication. On 11 May, while a sample was being taken for a Covid test, he complained of difficulty breathing. A medical officer called an ambulance, but even before the ambulance staff could give him oxygen, Chiranjeevi died.
99. Syed Raza Haider, 54
Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh
Urdu scholar and director of the Ghalib Institute, Haider died of Covid-19 at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College within Aligarh Muslim University on 24 April. He loved reading poetry by Allama Iqbal and Ghalib, and wrote and compiled a number of books. Haider also used to host the program Urdu Shayari Ka Badalta Manzarnama on Doordarshan. Journalist and friend Arfa Khanum Sherwani tweeted that Haider was a man “who lived for the love of poetry”.
100. Sardar Hussain, 79
Pilakhua, Uttar Pradesh
A fourth-generation craftsman, Hussain received many awards for his exquisite wood carvings. He reinvented the traditional Mughal technique of wood carving, adding brass inlay work. He loved to share his knowledge with younger artisans. With his two sons, Hussain established a successful export business in his hometown. He died on 12 May, three months before he turned 80.
Tara Anand is an illustrator and visual artist. She is currently pursuing a BFA in Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York.
Saranya Nayak is a writer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles and Kolkata.
Maisah Irfan is an intern at Article 14.
Radhika Bordia, DHRDNet, Harsh Mander, Adil Hossain, Shraddha Agarwal, Chitrangada Choudhury and Natasha Badhwar also contributed to this list.