COVID: Over 400 children in J&K lost one or both parents

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Jammu:  The second Covid-19 wave has taken a toll on children with nearly 400 having lost a parent or both parents to the infection in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Union Territory administration is in the process of compiling data of such children before extending financial help to enable them to continue with their education.

UT social welfare secretary Sheetal Nanda said, “We are in the process of collecting data of Saksham scheme beneficiaries and intend to be ready with it by June 20. Over 400 children have either lost a parent or both parents to the infection so far in J&K. After verification, we need to open their bank accounts. They will be joint accounts of the minor with a major guardian. Besides, we need details such as where they are studying.”

The divisional commissioners in Kashmir and Jammu and all district heads have been given the June 20 deadline after which the process of sanctioning relief will begin.

Lost both parents in two weeks, teen struggles to come to terms

The move comes as a helping hand for children like a 15-year-old student at an elite school in Jammu who lost her parents to Covid-19 within a fortnight in May 2021. The girl’s mother was a music teacher at the school. She is now being taken care of by her paternal aunt.

Kamaljeet Kaur, a friend of the girl’s mother, said: “She is with her paternal aunt for now, but then what? She has to be taken care of and her uninterrupted studies should be ensured by the administration. She is a student of Class 11. She needs counselling for her mental and emotional well-being. I was able to talk to her once on her mother’s cell phone but since then no one is responding to my calls. I plan to visit her house and intend raising funds for her,” she said.

Special scholarship announced

Earlier this week, the J&K government constituted a five-member panel for hand-holding families of Covid victims. Apart from financial assistance of ₹1,000 a month to such families, the government has approved scholarship to their children.

Under the scheme, the surviving spouse and the eldest surviving member of the affected families will receive a special monthly pension of ₹1,000 through direct bank transfer (DBT), provided they are not otherwise receiving any pension under other schemes.

The scheme will provide special scholarships to children who lost their earning parent(s), sibling(s), guardian(s) to Covid. The special scholarship of ₹20,000 and ₹40,000 will be paid annually through DBT to children studying up to Class 12 and those pursuing higher education, respectively.


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