Shareek, an abandoned young boy who was adopted by an inmate in a Muzaffarnagar relief camp, has found help in the form of a sponsorship.
A 55-year-old woman from Bangalore has agreed to bear Shareek’s educational and day-to-day expenses. She has however requested that her identity remains anonymous. While she is a home-maker, her late husband worked in the public sector.
The Hindu had on December 30 reported about Shareek’s adoption by a labourer Mohammad Shamshad, who lived in the Loi relief camp after being displaced by the riots. Shamshad had found the boy naked and crying, and after failing to find his parents, decided to adopt him.
However, the fate of the child’s parents remains a mystery. If the child’s parents were killed in the violence, he can avail the compensation due by the State.
Muzaffarnagar ADM Indra Mani Tripathi said he was not aware of any case where a boy went missing after arson in Muzaffarnagar. “The boy may have been lost due to other reasons than the communal violence. But I will consult with the Shamli administration (under whose jurisdiction the boy was found) and look into it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shamshad is adamant and not willing to part with the child, who is around 4 years old. Since Shareek’s story was reported, many people have approached Shamshad for the child, but he has rejected them insisting that he would hand over Shareek only to his parents. “If his parents come I will return their child. Else, I will bring him up as my own.”
But the uncertain future of the riot-displaced persons and Shamshad’s meagre resources will pose a hurdle, feels Shehzad Poonawala, an activist who facilitated the sponsorship with his campaign ‘Sports of Hope’ for the children in the relief camps.
“The money will cater to his educational and other expenses. I will meet Shamshad and calculate the expenses that need to be covered. The amount can be provided in instalments. We will also keep a tab on how faithfully Shamshad spends the money.”
Mr. Poonawala, who is running a campaign to distribute toys and study material among the children living in the camps, also said his team would initiate a drive to search for other such children.
“By providing these children toys to play and basic material to study we can divert their attention from the misery and alleviate their stress. We are organising teaching and sports courses for them,” he said.
The State has been facing flak for the poor living conditions in the camps. It has admitted that 34 children died in the relief camps due to cold, drawing sharp criticism from opposition parties and activists.