A day after NDTV reported how five siblings in Madhya Pradesh's Bhind district are living on charity after losing their parents to Covid, state cabinet minister and BJP MLA Arvind Bhadauria has said he would get a house built for them and be their guardian.
Speaking to NDTV, Mr Bhadauria, who is an MLA from Bhind's Ater segment, said the children have been shifted to a shelter. "The state government is looking after their education, health and security. They have said they need a place to stay. So in my personal capacity, I will ensure they have a home. For education and other requirements too, I am their guardian," he said.
The minister said it is very unfortunate that the children were orphaned during the pandemic. "They are our children, we stand by them. I will make arrangements to get a home built for them," he said.
Responding to a query on how social organisations and others can help the children as they do not have bank accounts, the minister said he is in talks with the district collector to iron out the issues and ensure that help reaches the children and there is no misuse. "Through the administration, we will get an account opened and we welcome any help from social organisations," the minister said, assuring that the account will be opened within a week.
To another question on why these children could not avail benefits under the Madhya Pradesh scheme for those orphaned by Covid, he said, "There was a technical difficulty as their parents did not die in the state, but in Uttar Pradesh. So the deaths did not reflect in our system. But now we know about it, this is an issue of our district and state and we also have directions from the Chief Minister. I will look into it in personal capacity too.
The children -- three sisters and two brothers, the youngest of whom is seven months old and the oldest 10 -- had been living in a partially damaged shack near a cremation ground in Amaha village.
Their father Raghavendra Valmiki died in February and their mother Girija in June.
"We have nothing to eat... so we daily get food and milk from the villagers, who also provided us clothes. We request the government to provide us a house... food, drinking water and education," Nisha, the oldest child, said yesterday.
They do have a grandfather who lives in the village, but local residents say he does not care for them.