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Govt allowances for Vrindavan widows not reaching them: SC

Author: Agencies
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: July 23, 2012
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt-allowances-for-vrindavan-widows-not-reaching-them-sc/978292/0

Terming the pitiable condition of widows in Virandavan of Uttar Pradesh as a "complex" problem, the Supreme Court today said government allowances was not reaching them.

A Bench headed by Justice D K Jain said government allowances for abandoned widows are not reaching them and there may be "touts".

"This is very unfortunate and I am sorry to say but there may be touts. Lady is there but someone else is withdrawing the money on her name," the bench said.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on July 30 and asked the governments of Odisha, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh to file their responses.

The court had on May 9 appointed a seven-member panel to collect data on their socio-economic conditions.

The committee headed by chairman of Mathura District Legal Services Authority was asked to conduct an enumeration of the widows living in the city within eight weeks.

The Bench had said the committee should compile and prepare a list of widows with their respective names, ages, addresses, places of origin, reasons for being in Virandavan and whether there was any property in their or their husbands' names in their native places.

The court passed the order on PILs seeking its direction to the Centre and the state government to provide shelter and other necessary facilities to the widows in the city who have been abandoned by their family members.

Earlier, the apex court had sought replies of the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government on a plea by Vrindavan widows, seeking immediate steps for their rehabilitation and better living.

The court had issued notices on a PIL highlighting the plight of widows who have been living in Vrindavan and begging at temples and then huddling together in hovels, which they call their homes.

The NGO, in its petition, pointed out to the court that the widows, who congregate for around seven to eight hours for Bhajans, get only Rs 18 a day.

The NGO had also told the court that a majority of the 1,000-odd widows interviewed in Vrindavan by the NCW have children who do not care for them.

In a report to the apex court, the statutory women's body recommended fixing of liability on the children under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

It had said an estimated 5,000-10,000 widows were living like beggars in ashrams dotting the two holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan and were being sexually exploited.

NCW's second report to the court said 81 per cent of these women were illiterate.
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