9-year old Alok (name changed) was sitting on a platform in Varanasi railway station staring at food stall. He was in a terrible condition – hungry, with bleeding lips, a cut on his chin and burn marks on his arms. Our outreach staff watched him for a while and approached him and asked if he had anything to eat. To this, he replied ‘no’ and after giving him food, he was taken to a shelter and immediately given medical attention.
Alok had run away from his parents’ home in Allahabad after being badly beaten by his father. He was living with his parents since a couple of years. Before this, he lived with his uncle and aunt in Patna since he was a year old. Both his parents worked in Allahabad and could not take care of him.
Alok’s uncle and aunt showered him with love and took good care of him, so much so that he considered them his real parents. When he went back to Allahabad to live with his parents and his younger brother, he suddenly found himself in a new atmosphere and did not like the restrictions it posed. He was also asked to take care of his younger brother and was regularly scolded and beaten.
One day, his younger brother had complained about him, which led to the beating by his father. Alok felt neglected, lonely and ran away from home to go to Patna.
At the shelter, Alok relaxed in the presence of other children and slowly started opening up during the counselling sessions. He was a sweet, intelligent and polite boy. His parents were called to the shelter. Alok continued to refer to them has his uncle and aunt and said that his parents lived in Patna. In fact, it was revealed to us only after they came to the shelter. We were however surprised to see that they were unapologetic about their treatment of the child. Eventually, his uncle and aunt were also called to Varanasi and they were willing to take Alok under their care.
Child Welfare Committee, Varanasi, also took cognizance of the facts and it was decided to send him to his uncle and aunt. They were delighted to take him back and asked his parents to stay away from him. They also asked his parents to pay INR 7000 every month for his education and other expenses.
Alok, thus went back to the loving home of his uncle and aunt in Patna instead of going to his parents.