Boy in Viral Pic Not Manual Scavenger’s Son. So Who Gets Rs 57 L?

“Anil said he does not consider me his aunt. We wanted to live together as husband and wife,” said the boy’s mother

4 min read
The viral picture went on to raise over Rs 50 lakh within a span of three days.

A manual scavenger Anil died due to asphyxiation while cleaning a Delhi Jal Board (DJB) sewer in West Delhi’s Dabri area on Friday, 14 September.

The photograph of a child weeping next to Anil’s body went viral after it first appeared in a Hindustan Times report. The reporter who filed the story referred to the child as Anil’s “son”.

Almost immediately, spurred by the virality of the image on social media platforms, help poured in from across the country as well as from abroad for the family as the weeping “son” grabbed everyone’s attention. In the reporter’s tweet, account details for those who wanted to help were provided, mentioning that the account is managed by the boy’s mother – Rani.

A separate crowd funding campaign initiated via Ketto collected almost Rs 60 lakh for Rani and her child.

The Twist...

A follow up report by ABP news revealed that he was, in fact, never married and that the boy in the viral picture is not his son. In fact, Rani, referred to as his wife in multiple media reports, is not even Anil’s wife. The ABP report quotes Anil’s mother Saroj saying that Rani was Anil’s maternal aunt i.e. Saroj’s sister.

Here’s a tweet by news agency ANI referring to her as Anil’s “wife.”


So Who Really is Rani?

On Thursday, in response to the ABP’s report which raised questions, Rani, the woman who was earlier reported to be Anil’s wife, told The Quint that she is Anil’s maternal aunt – his mother’s sister.

Anil had said he does not consider me his aunt. He told me that he will live with me and not care what his family and the society says about our relationship. We wanted to live together as husband and wife. We were planning to get a registered court marriage on Monday but he died before we could get married.

If the Boy Wasn’t Anil’s Son, Why Was He Crying ‘Papa’?

Rani now says that the boy in the viral picture is not her son from Anil, but from her previous marriage which hit a dead-end five years back, owing to domestic violence.

“The boy is my son from my last marriage. I have three children — two girls and one boy — from my last marriage,” she said referring to the child whose picture went viral.

However, Rani maintains that she and Anil were living together for five years in Dabri in Delhi and were slated to get married on Monday, 17 September, in court after paying off their debts.

“We had a lot of debt on us. We wanted to clear off the debt before getting married,” she added.

“We barely managed to make ends meet everyday but after saving some money, we bought a scooty. On seeing the scooty, my son told Anil that even he wants a cycle on his birthday. Anil had promised to buy him the cycle,” Rani said.

We Never Accepted Their Relationship: Anil’s Family

The Quint also spoke to Vikas Verma, Anil’s brother, who confirmed that the boy in the picture is not Anil’s son. Vikas went on to contest Rani’s relationship with Anil. “Rani is our maternal aunt and not Anil’s wife. We never accepted their relationship as they were never together,” Vikas said, adding that Anil used to live with them in Loni.

Anil’s family had later sent him to live with Rani as she had promised to get him a job last year.

Anil was living with us but would come home very rarely. We never knew about his relationship with Rani. We have been trying to tell people that the boy in the picture is not his real son but no one has heard us so far.
Geeta Verma, Anil’s sister

Moreover, the family claims they don’t have a clue about the money raised via online campaign.

Geeta also added that her brother Anil was cremated by Rani without any intimation to his family.

Now, What Happens to the Money Raised?

The fight over the money raised through online campaign by Ketto in collaboration with Uday Foundation, has intensified between Anil’s parents and Rani. While the family says that the boy is not Anil’s son, Rani maintains that Anil was no less than a husband to her.

Ketto,in collaboration with Uday Foundation, has raised over Rs 57 lakh for the beneficiaries.
Ketto,in collaboration with Uday Foundation, has raised over Rs 57 lakh for the beneficiaries.
(Photo: Screengrab)

We reached out to Ketto, the online crowdfunding platform, which raised over Rs 57,07,400 after the picture took social media by storm. Due to the initial reports, Ketto had started the crowdfunding in Rani’s name.

The organisation has decided to wait for the time being before transferring the money to the beneficiary.

“Along with Shiv Sunny, the Hindustan Times reporter, and Ketto, we’re looking into the news report and will share an update soon. No funds have been transferred until now and the funds raised will only be transferred to the beneficiary, the boy in the picture, following a thorough checking of the facts and completion of the verification procedure,” officials at Ketto told The Quint.

On Thursday evening, a new report was published by Hindustan Times calling Anil “more than a father” to the grieving boy in the photograph. The original report, however, distinctly used the terms husband, father and wife.

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