Writers' seeks report on starving village

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 20.03.08

Calcutta, March 19: The government today sought a detailed report from the West Midnapore district magistrate on Jaleshwari Shabar, the woman in her mid-60s who is dying slowly of starvation.

The Telegraph today carried the report on Jaleshwari, whose neighbours — 25 Shabar families — at Dadra village are unable to help her with food because they have very little for themselves.

Government records claim that the 50,000 people living below the poverty line in Binpur II block, including Dadra’s 150-odd Shabars, enjoy three square meals a day.

The block office had conducted the so-called survey a week after Kuna Shabar, a man in his early 70s, died on December 29. He had had his last meal a fortnight before his death.

The findings of the 2008 survey echoed a previous one conducted in 2005.

Paschimanchal affairs minister Susanta Ghosh today said he had sought a detailed report from district magistrate N.S. Nigam.

“We had provided rice and wheat to Jaleshwari under the Antodaya Yojana a few months ago. We had also arranged for payment of a monthly allowance to her. However, I have sought the details from the DM,” said Ghosh.

Jaleshwari has denied receiving any assistance from the government.

“We never saw anyone from the government visiting our village. A group of babus came here in February to ins- tal a tube-well, the only development work in our village in 30 years,” said her neighbour Nepal Shabar, in his mid-40s.

“We see panchayat people visiting adjoining Sandapara. They never come here,” said another villager, Gurupada.

Jayanti, who lives next-door to Jaleshwari, is the only educated person in the village. She dropped out of school in Class VIII because she got married. “In January, the survey team did not attach any importance to the widow’s condition, though I went to them and asked them to see her house,” said Jayanti.

She had asked the babus for a job for herself. “They told me to keep my school certificate ready but did not turn up after that.”

State human rights commission chairman Justice Shyamal Sen, too, has asked the district magistrate to submit a report on Jaleshwari and the other Shabars of Dadra.

“I’ve also sought the names of the villagers living below the poverty line,” said Sen.

Officials said the government had asked the district authorities to draw up a report on the living conditions of the Shabars in Dadra.

“We have also been asked to prepare a report on what the district administration has done for its development in this financial year,” said a district official.

Dadra in Binpur II block is just 40km from Amlashol, where starvation reportedly claimed five in 2004.