How a Single Mom Fought the System To Get Son’s SC Certificate Using Her Papers
On 4 January, Geeta Devi became Delhi's first woman whose son was issued an SC certificate solely based on hers.
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
"The other children would get benefits, but my son wouldn't. I could see that, but I couldn't say anything. After standing in a queue for hours, they would just throw my papers away and ask me to get his father's certificate. I would just come back home crying sometimes," said 30-year-old Geeta Devi, a single mother, who on 4 January became Delhi's first woman whose son was issued an SC certificate solely based on her caste certificate.
As per the previous law in the national capital, a caste certificate would be issued to a child only on the basis of the father's or any of the paternal male relative's caste certificates.
However, Geeta Devi's three-year-long battle has changed that.
Child Marriage, Separation, and Stigma of Single Motherhood
Hailing from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, Geeta Devi was married off when she was just 14-15 years old.
After her first husband passed away, she was married off to his brother, who left her over dowry issues after her father's death. My son must have been 1-1.5 years old back then," she said.
With no work in the village, she came to Delhi in search of employment and started working at a factory that employs women to cut threads off jeans trousers.
After learning of the benefits that her son was entitled to, Geeta Devi tried to avail those by producing her own caste certificate in the school, but the authorities would ask her to get her son's certificate made, which she couldn't do as she did not have her husband's or her in-laws' documents.
That's when her struggle to secure the certificate for her son began.
The Fight for the Certificate
"I would go to the Jhandewalan SDM office with all the ID proofs that I have. After standing in the queue for hours, they would just throw my papers away and ask me to get his father's certificate. I didn't have it, so where would I get it from?" Geeta Devi said.
"I had produced my father's and brother's certificates as well, but they were not accepted. They'd only ask for certificates of in-laws, which I did not have," she said.
"I used to keep it to myself as I could not tell anybody. I would feel like crying sometimes, I would return home crying. I would go again the next time with the hope that the certificate would be made, but that never happened."
Parallel Battle With the COVID-Induced Lockdown
While fighting for the certificate, Geeta Devi for the past two years has also been battling the hardships of the lockdown induced by the pandemic.
"I used to work full-time back then, but since the lockdown, there hasn't been much work. I did the job of cutting the extra threads on jeans pants and I would get paid a salary of Rs 7,000 before. But because of the lockdown, nobody hires on a salary basis anymore. We cut threads for Rs 1 per trouser. Sometimes there is 50, sometimes there is 75. On good days, it goes up to a maximum of 100 pairs of trousers per day," she said.
A Long-Fought Battle
"They say God reaches out to you in several forms. It was just a stranger who advised that I go to the MLA's office, and I did," Geeta Devi said, narrating how she met Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Vishesh Ravi.
Ravi took up the matter with the Delhi government's Revenue Department, Social Welfare Department, and the Department of the Welfare of SC/ST, and even brought up the issue in the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
The circular to amend the procedure for the issuance of the caste certificate in Delhi was amended in July 2020.
On 4 January 2022, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia handed over Sunny's caste certificate, which was made according to Geeta Devi's documents.
"It felt nice and I was happy. I may have had to struggle for it, but other women and children would not have to. They would not have to leave work and go get this done. That makes me happy," Geeta Devi said.
When asked about what she's planning for her son's future, Geeta Devi simply said that for now, she just wanted him to study.
"The rest depends on him; he can be anything he wants to be."
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