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ALLAHABAD, INDIA, January 25, 2001: Here, amid noisy crowds and cold winds laden with the sand of the Ganges, you can hear the sound of weeping from a cowshed-like structure. These are the unheeded cries of elderly women, abandoned by their families. This is the uglier side of the Maha kumbha Mela, where millions go to wash their sins, some to abandon their elderly mothers and female relatives. "This happens at every Kumbh festival. For families, Kumbha is a convenient way of getting rid of their old women who require care and attention," says Ramesh Mishra, in charge of the shelter for "lost women and children." The shelter in Kumbhnagar has been jointly set up by the Ranjit Pandit Shiksha Samiti and Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Smriti Samiti. "We have nearly 10,000 women in our shelter, all of them over 50. About 3,000 of them, who are genuinely separated from their families, will return home. It is just lack of love and sensitivity for women who have lived past their utility." It is clear from the vast difference in retrieval rate for children and for the old people that old people are being deliberately abandoned.