Vrindavan, Jan 16: The bodies of widows who die in government-run shelter homes in Vrindavan are taken away by sweepers at night, cut into pieces, put into jute bags and dumped into the river Yamuna, as the institutions do not have any provision for a decent funeral. This, too, is done only after the inmates give money to the sweeper, says a report submitted by the District Legal Services Authority.
The District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) had conducted a survey on the “Plight of Forsaken/Forlorn Women — Old and Widows Living in Vrindavan and Radius.”
Taking cognisance of a report Uttar Pradesh, Justice Altamash Kabir, Executive Chairperson of the National Legal Services Authority, had asked the U.P. State Legal Services Authority to survey the conditions of the women.
The terms of reference also included ascertaining whether there were peculiar family circumstances which led to abandonment of the women by their families or children which was actionable under Section 24 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.
The report has recommended that the District Magistrates be directed to protect the property and property rights of these women.
Says Ravindra Bana, the petitioner: "In order to save Rs 1,000, the bodies of destitute widows are handed over to sweepers to cut them into pieces."
The Supreme Court has sought replies from the Centre and state governments on this issue. Meanwhile, a probe committee has been set up led by the district's chief development officer S. Madhu Shalini.
The District Legal Services Authority in its report quoted Mithilesh Solanki, a widow living in Swadhar Mahila Ashray Kendra, Chaitanya Vihar (Vrindavan), to reveal the “sorry state of affairs and disheartening fact that sweepers take away the dead bodies in the night, cut them into pieces and dispose them of in jute bags.”
The institution, started by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2006 and run by a non-governmental organisation Akhil Bharatiya Maa Sharda Samaj Kalyan Samiti, does not undertake the responsibility of arranging funerals.