PM gifts a lakh, village stops food

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By RABI BANERJEE
  • Published 23.03.08
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Mayakhol (Nadia), March 23: If the Prime Minister helps you nobody else will, a visually challenged father has found out.

Dilip Ghosh, 45, received an assistance of Rs 1 lakh from the Prime Minister after The Telegraph reported how he was toiling as a labourer despite his disability just to ensure daughter Shampa, 11, went to school.

Now fellow residents of Mayakhol, 120km from Calcutta, as well as panchayat officials are denying him the foodgrain and pension he is entitled to, saying he is a rich man.

Dilip, however, can only access the interest on Manmohan Singh’s aid — a fixed deposit sanctioned in end-February — which should come to Rs 700-800 a month from April. Shampa alone can draw the principal once she turns 18.

Last week, Dilip tried explaining that to Bangshi Ghosh as he pleaded with the Mayakhol panchayat member to help him get his disabled pension.

“He told me I didn’t need the pension any more. He asked me to go to the Prime Minister if I have any problem in the future. He said, ‘You are a rich man now’,” Dilip said.

“I told him the money was meant solely for my daughter’s education, and that I have access only to the interest. But he laughed at me and asked me to get lost.”

Tumi to aar BPL nou, tomar ar takar ki dorkar (you no longer live below the poverty line, why do you need money)?” Bangshi told him.

Dilip, wife Fultuli and Shampa are BPL card-holders. Fultuli said the village ration dealer, too, had been refusing the family the weekly quota of foodgrain against Shampa’s card.

“The dealer says Shampa can’t be given foodgrain at BPL rates. Even my husband and I are getting our quotas irregularly — the dealer says we don’t need any,” Fultuli said.

Bangshi admitted having driven Dilip away when he sought help to secure disabled pension.

“We have many poor people to look after. The other disabled villagers are not getting pension, either. Since Dilip has already received aid, I asked him not to nag us,” Bangshi said. He, however, promised to see that Dilip received his family’s BPL quota of foodgrain.

Even Dilip’s neighbours, who once sympathised with him, now regard him with a tinge of jealousy.

“He is no longer like us. We are surprised he has received so much. There are so many poor in the village, but he alone got the money. Why should he receive the benefit of 100 days’ work a year (under the rural job guarantee scheme) any more?” asked farmer Ananda Ghosh, 50.

Dilip is determined to continue working. He now carries drinks for fellow labourers — a job he was given after this newspaper reported how he was falling and injuring himself while digging and ferrying stone chips.

District magistrate .S. Meena said it was for the government to decide on a person’s BPL status. “I will ensure Dilip gets all his dues as a BPL card-holder,” he said.

Shampa, a Class V student, is busy studying for her annual exams. “I know how keen my father is about my studies. I will not let him down,” she said.