New Delhi, May 15: Imagine the plight of a poor mother, who travels from Dimapur in Nagaland to Agra in Uttar Pradesh to rescue her seven-year-old son from the clutches of a moneylender from whom she had borrowed Rs 2,000 for the funeral of her late husband.
Since she could not pay back the money, her son was "forcefully" kept as a mortgage by the loan shark, says a report by Hindustan Times.
The heartbreaking story of a woman, identified as Rita, brings to light horrifying amount of poverty in the country and how moneylenders are exploiting people in the name of giving them loans.
The ordeal of Rita won't have come to light if social activist Naresh Paras did not spot Rita and her two other children (three-year-old son and two-year-old daughter) eating food from a garbage bin and drinking water from a drain in the Taj Mahal city of Agra recently.
The arduous journey of Rita began almost seven months ago when her husband died in Dimapur. The poor woman had no other means to give a decent funeral to her husband, and thus she borrowed Rs 2,000 from a moneylender.
The loan shark taking advantage of her situation kept her elder son Sonu as a "security deposit". The moneylender gave her a job in a tea garden so that she could return the loan amount and take back her son.
However, her daily earning of Rs 40 was not enough to pay back the amount. Moreover, Rita in her 20s had to take care of her two other kids. Since she had no money, the loan shark did not even let Rita meet Sonu.
Thus she decided to travel to Agra, almost 2,000 km from Dimapur, with her brother-in-law Pappu to earn Rs 2,000 to get back her son.
As soon as she landed in Agra, Pappu left her and two children alone. In the big city Rita without a job and penniless was forced to eat stale food from garbage bins and drink polluted water from drains.
After seeing her pitiful condition, Paras tried to speak to Rita. Unfortunately, Rita does not speak either Hindi or English, so the social activist contacted police and the Lucknow-based organisation, Asha Jyoti Kendra, which assigned a local counsellor to communicate with her.
Paras told Hindustan Times that he had contacted a senior police officer in Kohima, the capital city of Nagaland, and briefed him about Rita's story.
"He assigned sub-inspector A Singla in Dimapur to look into the matter. Singla called me and promised help once Rita is back in her hometown."
After learning about Rita's 'horrifying' story, local shopkeepers in Agra came together and collected Rs 3,500 and gave the amount to the mother to pay back the loan shark. The locals of Agra also provided food, clothes and footwear to Rita and her two children.
On Mother's Day, which was celebrated across the world on Sunday, Rita boarded the Brahmaputra Express near Delhi to Dimapur. Paras with the help of his colleagues pooled money to buy her tickets back to home in Dimapur.