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NGO Sulabh International on Sunday announced that it would take proper care of Virndavan widows after Supreme Court noted their miserable plight.

"From today onwards, no widow of Virandavan will sleep without food. Each and every widow will get food every night," Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak said while launching a programme for destitutes here.

The apex court had recently taken a strong exception to the manner in which the bodies of widows, who lived in government shelter homes at Vrindavan, were disposed – by chopping them into pieces and putting them in gunny bags – on the plea of lack of money for proper cremation.

The court had expressed serious concern over lack of provision of food as well.

The court asked the NALSA (National Legal Service Authority) to contact the Sulabh International to find out whether they could come forward to help the 1,780-odd widows living in four government shelters at Vrindavan.

“Now, we will take care of every need of the widows and orphans who roam about and beg on the streets of Vrindavan. Sulabh will ensure food, clothing, proper health care and hygiene," Pathak said.

With his vast experience in the field of low-cost sanitation and social uplift of the manual scavengers, the Sulabh founder said his first task would be to motivate the orphans and able bodied widows to undergo vocational training so that they can earn their livelihood.

"Sulabh will arrange training and provide employment to able-bodied widows," he said.

Pathak said his organisation has liberated a large number of women from the inhuman job of carrying night soil on their head that they had been doing for generations, given them vocational training, provided them education and ensured that they live a life of self respect.

"We can use our vast experience here in Vrindavan and see that the widows no longer live as an unwanted burden on the society," he said.

"This will be the new mission of Sulabh, which is hitherto known for waging the cause of untouchability," said Pathak, who has worked in fields of sanitation technology, social enterprise and healthcare education.

He said the organisation would arrange regular health check ups for the widows so that their physical ailments could be minimised.

"We cannot remove their mental agony, but at least we can apply a healing balm on their physical sufferings," he said.

"Right now we will start on our own, but at the same time we will approach central as well as state governments and big corporate houses for help. The idea is to ensure a dignified life to the widows," he added.

The SC bench of Justices DK Jain and Madan B Lokur had recently directed the Uttar Pradesh government to at least ensure that proper last rites were performed to Vrindavan widows as per their religion.

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