I met Pooja, a 21-year-old mother on the streets of Delhi. Her husband left her with a promise of finding a good job and secured future for her children. After a long one year wait, she decided to come to Delhi with her two children, one aged 2 years and the other just an infant.
With no roof on her head, she decided to stay in a night shelter, which was shared by women only. Though this saved her from the ogling eyes of men, this shelter house came with its own challenges for her and her two children. She was seen as another occupant of the space, moreover, as she came with her two children with requirements more than of an individual. Taking them as a liability, the women in the shelter started looking for ways to get rid of the three. They looked for a prospective match for her, after a lot of persuasion she was introduced to a man three times older than her.
In a brief conversation, she told me how she was denied from getting extra milk or food for her children followed by regular taunts and the fights which ultimately led her to leave the shelter house. In the cold winter night, she was seen sitting next to the fire with the young one in her arms and calling out the other child. Recently, I came to know that she passed away due to some unknown or uncertain circumstances. I was told that this is the usual story of those living as homeless in the capital. Since, I didn't come to know the reason of her death, knowing about her children was out of the question. Are they in some orphanage or trafficked? I remember how she dreamt of a secure future for her children.
We do understand why they are denied access to basic facilities either because of no identity proof or missing document and some other reason to authenticate themselves. The recent case of Santoshi who died starving for eight days is another tragic incident.
In the last few years, we have heard of several progressive policies, schemes and public rights. But have we thought of those living below the poverty line and where the basic facilities are missing. Are we including them in the rights and entitlements we talk about.