Tuesday, March 28, 2006

[India] Poverty drives J&K villagers to sell children

from NDTV

Vikram Chowdhary

Unemployment and poverty drove a family in Jammu and Kashmir to sell their 12-year-old son Joginder for only Rs 8,000.

And it's not just the pain of giving away a child that the parents had to deal with. Joginder died two months after he was sold.

"Because of hunger and poverty he gave our son. We thought at least there he will be able to eat well and grow up. But fate had something else. He couldn't grow. How could he? They killed our son. He was killed," said Kiso Devi, Joginder's mother.

Migrant colony

For the last seven years Kiso Devi has been living in a colony of migrants in the remote village of Talwara in Udhapmur district.

Her family migrated from their village higher up in the mountains because of the fear of militants.

Karam Chand, another resident of the village, lost one of his legs while working as a labourer. Today, he is barely surviving, leading a hand to mouth existence.

Chand sold off his twelve-year-old son for Rs 1,000. He regrets his decision, but says with his family fighting hunger, that was the only option left.

"Today people refuse to give me any credit or loan. He was my only son. He was studying in 7th-8th. I forced him to leave his school and sold him just for Rs 1,000," said Karam Chand.

Battling poverty

The villagers say there are about a dozen such families who have sold their children, and some potential sellers are still waiting for buyers.

About seven years ago, thousands of villagers migrated from the higher reaches to safer places because of the threat of militancy.

In Reasi alone, there are more than 5,000 migrants.

Till 2004, they were getting free ration from the state government but now they say there is hardly anything to eat and are forced to sell their children.


Anonymous said...

Keep it up Vikram

Kale said...

Thank you so much!