The children look dazed. On Tuesday, when The News Minute team visited their house at Kurumandal B Ward in Paravur (Kollam), Krishna and her younger brother Kishore were sitting across the table mute after having witnessed their parentsâ€™ tragic end right in front of their eyes a couple of days before.
45-year old Bency Kaviraj and his 41-year old wife Baby Girija lost their lives in the Puttingal temple blast on Sunday. They had put up a stall on the temple grounds that fateful night. Both kids had readily accompanied their parents to help out at the stall.
Girijaâ€™s mother and sister too were present at the spot as they had put up an adjoining stall.
14-year old Krishna speaks in a broken tone: â€śSince a couple of flying sparks from the crackers got into my eye, I had gone to a neighbouring house to lie down for a couple of minutes. I must have dozed off when suddenly I awoke to the sound of a deafening blast. I did not know what was happening and could not venture out as the entire place was plunged in darkness and heavy smoke. Hearing Kishoreâ€™s wails just then made me rush out andâ€¦â€ť she simply breaks off mid-sentence.
Hearing his sister relive those traumatic moments Kishore suddenly lowers his eyes. Seeing his stricken face, another of his aunts (motherâ€™s sister) holds him close and continues: â€śHe had been sent out of the stall by his mother to get some additional paper cups from his grandmother. Not a moment had passed between him stepping out and the tremendous blast that shook the entire place. Screaming he returned to the shop only to be greeted by his fatherâ€™s bloodied face. Hearing his screams, his sister came rushing to his side. Not knowing what to do, both of them then ran to their grandmotherâ€™s stall. There they saw their 38-year old aunt Anitha with a severely bruised right leg. Their grandmother seemed alright though she had been hit on the chest by some flying debris. In the ensuing melee, they didnâ€™t realize that their mother too had been grievously injured in the blast and was lying a few feet away from their father.â€ť
When the media caught on to their heart-rending story, the State Child Welfare Committee immediately sprang into action and a decision was taken to make the children the wards of the state.
Speaking to The News Minute, CJ Antony -Chairman of the Child Welfare Committee at Kollam- said that under Keralaâ€™s Integrated Child Welfare Scheme, the state owed it to the kids who had lost their parents in the blink of an eye to be taken under their foster care.
â€śSection 2D of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000 enables us to do so. Even in the case of relatives turning up and promising to cater for the children, we need to get them formally registered with us so as to ensure that they are provided for in the long run in terms of security, healthcare and education,â€ť he affirms.
The childrenâ€™s maternal relatives are however staunchly against any such move and so the CWC appointed the grandparents as caretakers under section 42 of the Juvenile Justice Act.
(Scroll down if you wish to help the children, a campaign has been created for them).
With Bency having lost his parents a long time ago, it was Girijaâ€™s parents 71-year old Haridasan and 68-year old Sarasamma who have always been there for the kids.
Since they stay close by, on the way back from school, both Krishna and Kishore always dropped in first at their grandparentsâ€™ home which was close by, as their parents had to be at their mobile eatery all day long.
Sarasamma says: â€śThey both come home and eat at our place after school. If for any reason, they are late, you have no idea of just how worried I get.â€ť
Her youngest daughter chips in: â€śHow can we let them take away our kids? Of course, since we are not very well off, financial assistance will definitely be appreciated, but there is no question of letting them go and stay at some centre. Neither the kids nor us want that to happen.â€ť
A look around the house is enough to convince anyone of the inherent poverty, yet the art adorning the faded walls lend a cheer of its own to the place: â€śKrishna draws really well. See, these are her drawings all over the place,â€ť her grandmother points out with pride.
Holding back a choke, her aunt smiles: â€śKrishna loves to come up with these on any available space on the walls, and after finishing a new piece, she would rush to her mother and ask: Howâ€™s thisâ€¦now who will she run to?â€ť
Editor's Note: With the permission of Krishna and Kishore's grandparents, The News Minute has started a campaign to provide financial assistance for the children. Click on this link if you wish to help. The money will be transferred to Krishna's account at the end of the campaign.