Hazaribagh, Sept. 20: Some six years ago, in village Shekha, 7km from Hazaribagh, fond parents Sarju Ravidas and Mosamat Geeta had named their third child and only son Bangaru.
Apparently, one of Sarju’s labourer friends who had worked in Andhra Pradesh told him Bangaru meant gold in Telugu. After daughters Poonam and Sangeeta, a son was no less than gold for this poor rural family.
Bangaru, now an orphan, has tragically lost his shine. He lost his labourer father to tuberculosis two years ago and his mother and younger sister to starvation recently.
In the process, Bangaru became a poster boy of failed welfare subsidies in Jharkhand.
Former external affairs minister and Hazaribagh MP Yashwant Sinha has shot a letter to chief minister Hemant Soren on the starvation deaths yesterday evening, charging officials for trying to hush up the issue to save their skin.
Brushing off the suggestion of administrative officials, including DC Sunil Kumar, that Geeta (40) and her daughter Sangeeta (12) had died of jaundice, Sinha had told The Telegraph: “It is a clear case of starvation death.”
In his letter to Hemant, Sinha wrote he had personally visited Shekha and asked why welfare schemes, subsidies and benefits didn’t reach the needy.
Pointing to a serious flaw in implementation, the BJP veteran requested the chief minister for an inquiry.
Sinha added he would write to Union food and civil supplies minister as well.
Bangaru, discharged from Hazaribagh sadar hospital yesterday evening, sits quietly in one corner of the house of his aunt-cum-neighbour Lakhi Devi.
His cousin Deepak Kumar Das said the boy started crying this morning, asking for his maiyya and didi. “Maiyya kahan hai? Didi kahan hai?” he asked.
When told that god had called both, he sobbed: “Maiyya paas jana hai”.
For now, relatives and villagers are taking care of Bangaru and gearing up for the das karam (funeral rituals) of Geeta and Sangeeta in a mass-scale exorcism of guilt.
This is the same village where Geeta and Sangeeta died of hunger bit by bit. Panchayat representatives did not stop fair price shop owner Prawil Mahto from giving her 20kg grain from Antyodaya Anna Yojana instead of the full 35kg.
In the last few days when the family had nothing to eat, no neighbour came forward.
“The district administration is ready to admit the boy in any orphanage and will ensure proper care of him. But for that, we need a go-ahead from his relatives,” said subdivisional officer (sadar) Rajeev Ranjan.
“We are waiting for Bangaru’s eldest sister Poonam to come with her husband from Muzzaffarnagar, UP, and take a decision,” said Deepak.