The Inside Story
PRATAPGARH: For at least 2 months, a group of children, the youngest barely seven, made their home a blue plastic sheet of tent near their parents' graves in Pratapgarh, over 160 kms from Lucknow.

They slept there, and ate whenever villagers gave them food.
The children are siblings. Their parents died of AIDS, within two years of each other. Not one relative offered to help. An uncle said if they stayed in the small house where they were growing up, they would be infected with the virus that killed their parents.

The eldest, a 21-year-old, moved his three brothers and sister to the graveyard.

Residents of their old neighbourhood admit they offered the children no assistance, and ostracized them.

"We thought we too could get infected, so we told them to stay away, outside the village," said Hazrat Ali.

Hours after NDTV reported the horrific story, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav announced a house would be arranged for them along with one lakh per child. But no relative has offered to stay with them or help them with the money.

"We are giving them a house. Two of them will be sent to school. And the eldest one will get work under MNREGA (rural employment scheme), but what we have to end is the social boycott," said a local official, Vidya Bhushan.

For now, the children have been moved into their grandmother's house.

But the scale of the challenge was evident in a short conversation with their uncle, who said he is still reluctant to help bring them up. Only if they test negative for HIV, he warned. They were tested today; results show they are free of HIV.

As NDTV left the village, the siblings were moving whatever little they had, into their grandmother's home, knowing that even this home, is temporary.

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