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Bankura death fans starvation fear

Durgapur, Sept. 8: A 50-year-old daily labourer has died in a Bankura village, allegedly of starvation.

Shamood Sheikh from Mohana, 240km from Calcutta, was admitted to a local hospital with chest and abdominal pain on Wednesday night and died the next day.

His wife Anisha, 43, and fellow villagers said Shamood had had no food for a week. “He could not go out to work because of his failing health,” Anisha said.

After district magistrate Surendra Gupta came to know of the death from journalists today, Shamood’s house saw a steady stream of officials.

The block development officer of Mejia, Aveek Kumar Das, assured Anisha of all possible help. Gupta ordered a probe into the death.

Doctors at the hospital, however, said the patient had died of cardiac and respiratory failure, a line the BDO repeated, saying: “I cannot call it a starvation death.”

Medical experts say starvation, which lowers immunity, can bring on many diseases or aggravate pre-existing ones to the point where they can lead to death.

Anisha alleged that the block administration and the panchayat had not included the family in the below poverty line (BPL) list despite requests. “My husband did odd jobs and earned Rs 20-30 a day. But he couldn’t work regularly since he was very weak most of the time.”

She herself was ill after going hungry for a week and so were her three daughters, aged 8, 12 and 16, she said.

“In the past four years, Shamood often could not walk properly, let alone work,” said neighbour Sajauddin Khan.

CPM panchayat member Hanufa Bibi admitted that the family “had applied for the BPL list” but had somehow been overlooked.

“We have sent tarpaulin sheets and 20kg of rice and would give Rs 10,000 as a one-time aid after the family’s inclusion in the BPL list,” the BDO said.

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