Months after a truck driver was shot dead by terrorists in Anantnag in South Kashmir, a flicker of hope has emerged for his three minor children, who were left orphaned.
On October 28 last year, terrorists killed truck driver Narayan Dutt, in his forties, who was from the village Kotla Sera near Kakriyal town in Katra (district Reasi) of Jammu & Kashmir. He left behind four minor children – Atul Sharma (17), Tania (15), Sania (12) and Vansh (7). Atul was a school dropout while the other three were in school. Their mother had died before terrorists gunned down their father.
Left orphans, the children now live with their uncle and aunt (father’s brother and his wife) at the same village, in a kutcha house and walk 1.5 km to reach the nearest government school. Their uncle already bedridden, the children had no source of any financial assistance for daily needs such as buying notebooks, stationery items, uniform etc.
A flicker of hope has now emerged with The SARA (Suicides Are Avoidable), an organization working to prevent suicides in Jammu & Kashmir, adopting the three school going children and bearing their educational expense till class 12th. The organization has also got bank accounts of three children opened and an amount of Rs 1,000 a month is being transferred, which they can use for their day to day needs.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Tania (15), a class-9 student said, “What wrong had my father done? What wrong have we, the locals of J&K, done to terrorists? My father had said he will come home for Diwali before leaving to deliver a consignment. Humein nahi pata tha ki wo iss awastha mein waapis aayenge (We never knew he will come back in this condition). My youngest brother still asks if father will come back…”
The family had none from whom they could seek monetary help. “Our family’s financial condition was never strong even when father was there. After he died, we had none who we could approach for our needs. Now we are getting Rs 1,000 a month and at least daily life has become a little easier,” says Tania.
Raminder Jit Singh, one of the founders of SARA, says, “Though the children were given ex-gratia assistance of Rs 1 lakh by administration, they cannot withdraw and use it for their daily expenses till not 18. Also, their annual school admission fee was also an issue. Now, we will also pay their school fee and cover other education related expense. We will be assisting them till class 12. Also, we have already handed them over cheques of Rs 1,000 a month in advance till March. We shall also be giving them mental health counselling.”
Tania, meanwhile, aims to be(typo) join Army. “I want to take revenge for my father’s death. Secondly, I want to serve and protect my country. Those who live in India and say this is not their country are living in some misconception. Why no action is taken against people who shelter terrorists? They shattered our world…”
Meanwhile, Katra SSP railways Ranjit Singh Sambyal, who had helped SARA connect with children, said, “We will be keeping a check so that money being given to children is used for their welfare only.”
Incidentally, the mother of the children was allegedly murdered by her husband. Dutt was an undertrial in his wife’s murder case of 2013 and was out on bail.
Tania, meanwhile, is quick to correct when asked the name of district her village falls in Jammu & Kashmir “state”. “It is no more a state. It is a Union Territory now,” she corrects.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines