Six days after having lost both his parents, the plight of 10-year-old Ashu from Ludhiana has failed to move even his close relatives. In spite of being approached by local authorities, none of them have so far come forward to take his custody.
On Thursday, three hours after his wife succumbed to lung cancer at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, Ludhiana resident Ashwini Kumar, Ashu’s father, walked along the railway line for nearly two km and then jumped to death in front of a train around 10am, pushing his son aside.
Ashu has since then been confined to the UT’s home for the destitute, Snehalaya, waiting for someone to take him out.
Behind his sad fate, however, lies a love marriage not getting acceptance and the society’s pressures when love sees no religion.
Ashu’s father Ashwini, a hosiery worker in Ludhiana, was boycotted by his family after he fell in love with a Muslim girl and married her. His three brothers boycotted him with two of them refusing to claim the dead body, even after efforts to convince them by the local railway police.
Ashu’s paternal grandparents are not alive, and there has been no contact with his mother’s parents, so far.
Finally, Ashu’s youngest uncle, Desraj turned up last Sunday and performed the last rites of his (Ashu’s) parents, three days after their death.
Neil Roberts, chairperson of the UT’s Child Welfare Committee said that Desraj visited the boy at the Snehalaya on Sunday. The next day Ashu’s maternal uncle from Aurangabad (Maharashtra) Khaja Sayeed also visited the city after being called by the police.
“Both were asked to produce legal documents before seeking the boy’s custody. However, we have not heard from them yet, raising doubts on whether they are interested in taking the boy,” said Neil Roberts.
The committee is apprehensive about the financial status of the relatives.
Desraj has three children and is not earning well. His maternal uncle has two kids and has admitted to the committee that his financial condition is not sound.
Neil added that the committee had written to their child welfare panels in Ludhiana and Aurangabad on the two uncles’ status. “Our priority is to ensure that the boy gets a permanent home, but we cannot allow his custody, if his uncles are found incompetent,” he said.
For now, Ashu, who has been quiet since the incident, is attending school inside the Snehalaya, situated near Maloya colony and is sharing a room with 10 boys. He was given several counselling sessions with specific instructions that he not be asked about his parent’s death. An official said that he was trying to open up but there was pain in his eyes.