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Saturday, June 25, 2022

From Chandigarh to Haridwar, a family forced into penury

The city of her dreams has become unattainable with the rent of the tiny house in Sarangpur where the family used to live, shooting up from Rs 3000 to Rs 5000.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh |
May 18, 2022 6:36:12 am
Shashi with wife Anju and daughter Sonakshi.

It was with the dream of scripting a bright future for their children that Shashi Kumar and his wife Anju moved to Chandigarh in 2008. Shashi worked hard at his tailoring shop at Sarangpur to educate his three children. Little did the family know that their life would turn topsy turvy one hot day in May last year when Kumar succumbed to Covid- 19.

Robbed of their sole breadwinner and with no help forthcoming from the Chandigarh administration under the Parvarish scheme for children of Covid-19 victims, Shashi’s wife and children had no choice but to leave Chandigarh for Haridwar where they are living with Anju’s widowed mother.

Anju’s plight is an example of bureaucratic apathy and red tape. “I got a call from Chandigarh administration just once, last year. They asked me the details of my husband’s death, cause, my financial position and specifics of my children. I told them that Shashi was the sole breadwinner and requested for help but they never got back,” Anju said.

Anju tried to get some help from the Haridwar administration when she heard from her neighbours that families who had lost their family members to Covid were entitled to a compensation of Rs 50,000.

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Narrating her ordeal, Anju says, “When I didn’t hear anything from Chandigarh administration, I went to a Seva Kendra in Haridwar with the reference of a person from our village. They said they wanted a Covid-19 death certificate. I gave them the discharge papers but they had merely written ‘fever’ and not Covid. The official helped me apply for compensation but my claim was rejected.’’ The next time, she went to fill up the form for compensation, she was told that she didn’t have ration card. “Once again, my claim was rejected …We are not that educated and don’t know the technicalities,” Anju sighed.

It was in May 2021 that Anju’s husband Shashi Kumar, developed fever. It was a symptom of Covid-19. When he felt a little better, the family headed for their native place near Haridwar. But the moment he reached, he started having trouble in breathing. He was admitted to hospital for two days and died hours after his discharge in Haridwar itself.

Losing all courage to return to Chandigarh with absolutely no source of earning, Anju started staying at her mother’s house in Haridwar. When a Chandigarh official called, she regained the hope of returning to the city, but it was shortlived. The city of her dreams has become unattainable with the rent of the tiny house in Sarangpur where she used to live with her husband, shooting up from Rs 3000 to Rs 5000. Abandoned by her in-laws, Anju and her children are now at the mercy of others.

“My husband’s brothers never came to check on us for the fear that we would ask for money. I was forced to fall back on my widowed mother,” she told.

It was that time a unit of Hero company in Haridwar came to her rescue by offering her ration for six months. “They didn’t know us but they helped, the government gave us nothing,” she specified.

Three months after the death of her husband, Anju got the names of her three children– Sagar, Sonakshi and Akash — struck off from the Chandigarh government schools. “I had heard that the UT administration would help educate students who had lost one parent to Covid but no one helped us. I could barely manage to get ration what to talk of paying the rent of a house in Chandigarh. Now my widowed mother is supporting all of us with the help of my brother,” Anju said.

Anju has started trying her hand a tailoring and sometimes stitches a suit or two. Her children are now pursuing their education in Haridwar. “My brother is paying the fees of my eldest son, a Class IX student in a private school; the younger ones are in Class VII and V in a government school. Shashi had big dreams for our children, but they are shattered now. Our life is one big struggle,” she said.

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