Pradeep Pattanayak

In a heart-wrenching incident, acute poverty compelled an elderly man to hand his granddaughter over to the district administration. The incident was reported from Sakhadunguri village under Jharbandh Police limits in Bargarh district of Odisha. 

As per reports, Mukunda Banchhor had a happy family comprising his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter. Everything was right till 2016 and then fate played a cruel joke and his son died. His son was the sole breadwinner of the family. As if it were not enough, unable to come to terms with her husband’s death, his daughter-in-law lost her mental balance and went missing and is still untraceable. 

The responsibility of bringing up his granddaughter fell on his weakening shoulders. Now, he is 75 and no longer able to do any physical labour due to his advancing age. His wife is a paralysis patient. The only government incentives they are receiving are old age pensions and articles under PDS which always fall short for them, let alone their granddaughter. 

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The thought of bringing up his granddaughter had been worrying Mukunda and his wife. The question of what would become of her after their death had been troubling the couple. 

Finally, the pangs of poverty overcame love, affection, and, above all, blood relations. Mukunda was left with no option but to take a bold decision to separate his granddaughter from him. He decided to hand her over to the district administration so that she could be saved, at least. 

“She has lost her father. Her mother has gone somewhere. Worse, we are also very old and not able to take care of her. The only government incentives we are receiving are old-age pensions and ration. My wife is also not doing well,” said Mukunda with eyes welling up in tears. 

When Mukunda reached the district child welfare committee office with his granddaughter and expressed his wish, the child welfare officer was taken aback. However, keeping Mukunda’s poor condition and the girl’s future in view, he had to accept the girl. 

The child has been sent to an orphanage in Gaisilet block. 

However, CWC member Radha Agarwal said the family can take the girl back within two months. 

“From the day one of him surrendering his granddaughter, he has two months to take back his granddaughter. After completion of two months, if no complaints are received, we will declare the child as ‘free for adoption’,” she said.

(Reported by Dharmadatta Padhi)