Moved by news reports about a Kangra resident who had to sell off one of his cows to afford his children’s education, netizens as well as the Himachal Pradesh government have stepped in to help.
Kuldeep Kumar, 36, lives with his wife and two children in a kutcha house at Gummer village in Jwalamukhi. He rears cattle and sells milk in the area to earn a living.
Around three months ago, he was forced to buy a smartphone for his children, who study in Classes II and IV, so that they could attend virtual classes during the ongoing pandemic. “I borrowed money to buy the phone, which cost me around Rs 6,000. I have now sold one of my cows to pay back the money,” he said.
Kumar’s name was also struck off the below poverty line (BPL) list some time ago because of a condition which requires a person to work in MNREGA for at least 20 days a year in order to be eligible for BPL registration. Kumar said he has a back problem, due to which he cannot do manual labour, and therefore cannot work in MNREGA jobs.
News of his plight, highlighted in media reports, went viral on social media on Thursday, prompting a number of netizens, including Bollywood actor Sonu Sood, to contact him and offer financial aid.
A team of government officials also visited Kumar at his house to inquire about his financial condition. “The phone was bought on April 30 and the cow was sold a few days ago, so we could not establish whether he was forced to sell the cow specifically for the phone. But he recently also had to pay Rs 9,050 to pay the fees and purchase books for his children. So the children’s education seems to be a factor in the sale of the cow. He is now left with 4-5 animals, including a bull,” said a tehsildar who visited Kumar.
The official said that Kumar’s name is being included in the BPL list again and the family will also be provided aid under the PM Awas Yojana to construct a pucca house. Some ration has also been provided to the family, he said.
Kumar’s wife said several people have contacted the family and sought their bank account number in order to transfer aid. Bipin Sharma, a resident of the village, said villagers often help Kumar in paying his children’s school fees. “He only owns around 1.5 kanal of land, so he cannot make ends meet by farming either,” said Sharma. He said that after news on Kumar went viral, some people tried to “make a joke of his poverty” but others have stepped forward to help. Governor Bandaru Dattatraya also sought a report on the matter and was apprised of it on Friday.
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