The council took over the responsibility for the four older children – two boys aged seven and five and two girls aged four and three
In an incident which has triggered shock and outrage and exposed chinks in the social security net, acute poverty and starvation forced a mother in the State capital to hand over four of her six children to the care of the Kerala State Council for Child Welfare.
Such was the plight of the family living in a shanty on a railway puramboke land at Kaithamukku that one of the children used to eat sand to ward off hunger, according to the mother.
By Monday noon, the council took over the responsibility for the four older children – two boys aged seven and five and two girls aged four and three – and shifted them to the rescue shelter run by it. This was done with the mother’s written consent and the approval of the Child Welfare Committee under the Juvenile Justice Board on Monday.
By Monday night, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan instructed that the mother and the two younger children should be transferred to the Mahila Mandiram to ensure better care.
The plight of the family had come to light on Saturday after local people dialled 1517 and alerted the Thanal project under the council which extends assistance to children in trouble. A team, including Thanal State coordinator Bahuleyan Nair K., and social workers rushed to Kaithamukku.
Charge against father
“You cannot call it a house. Tarpaulin and flex sheets were strung as walls. There was just hot water boiling on a stove,” Mr. Deepak said. “The mother, in her letter to us, said that the children would die of hunger unless we took over their responsibility,” he said.
According to the mother’s petition, the father of the children, a daily wage labourer, is addicted to alcohol. He was also abusive to the children and herself, she had stated, according to council officials.
When the officials visited the houses, the parents made conflicting statements regarding the plight of the children.
Job and home
Once the news broke, the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation quickly swung into trouble-shooting mode. Mayor K. Sreekumar visited the family at Kaithamukku and promised a temporary job for the mother from Tuesday. “It’s a very sad incident. It should not have happened in Thiruvananthapuram,” the Mayor said.
The family would also be allotted a unit in one of the completed flats, he said. He also declared the Corporation’s intention to assume responsibility for the education of the children.