Leaving widows to fend for themselves needs to be made punishable under law: NHRC chief

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New Delhi, Jul 20 (PTI) NHRC chairperson justice (retd) Arun Kumar Mishra on Tuesday called for restoration of property rights of destitute widows to mitigate their plight, and said leaving them to fend for themselves needs to be made punishable under the law.

He was chairing a meeting on the human rights issues of widows residing in shelter homes in Mathura and Vrindavan and Varanasi. Expressing serious concerns over the living conditions of the widows in Mathura and Vrindavan and Varanasi, he said that the property rights of widows need to be restored to redress their plight and make a way for their dignified living.

'Leaving widows to fend for themselves has to be discouraged by making it punishable under law to stop this practice,' he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the National Human Rights Commission.

He said government functionaries have to be made accountable for non-implementation of the welfare schemes, if basic amenities are not provided to the destitute widows resulting in violation of their human rights including the right to food, shelter, dignity and property.

Mishra said the ground reality of various shelter homes for the widows need to be assessed at the earliest.

The NHRC chief said that formulating schemes for the welfare of destitute widows is not just sufficient enough unless their proper implementation is ensured, adding that the focus should be on their skill development to make them self-reliant for their livelihood.

Some of the other important suggestions that emerged during the discussions included conducting a study to assess the number of widows living in Mathura and Vrindavan and Varanasi; and increasing their monthly pension to ensure that they may have adequate resources to meet their basic requirements, the statement said.

Expanding the scope of various welfare schemes, including Ayushman Bharat to extend the benefits to the destitute widows, was another suggestion, it said.

The meeting was also attended by NHRC Member Rajiv Jain, Secretary General Bimbadhar Pradhan, Joint Secretary Anita Sinha, and Winnie Singh of Maitri India, among others. PTI KND KJ

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