Giridih/Ranchi: A 40-year-old tribal woman dead of starvation in Sewatand village of Giridih district in Jharkhand. The woman, identified as Budhni Soren, was a widow and had a 7-year-old son as her only family member.
Budhni was not getting any ration as leave aside Aadhar card, she had no ration card as well. Her death marks the seventh hunger death in Jharkhand. However, Giridih administration has refused to term it as hunger death. They have maintained that Budhni died of cold on Saturday, and buried on Sunday in Sewatand of Tisri block, which is about 100 kilometers away from the district headquarters.
This was Budhni’s second marriage and her husband Tuddu Hemburm had died a year ago. Villagers informed that she used to collect leaves from nearby forest and make dona-pattals to make ends meet. Few days back, she caught cold and unable to venture out. Hence Budhni could not had money to buy food. A villager claimed, “She even used to drop in at her son’s school during lunch time, so that she could share the mid-day meal with him.”
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Her step-daughter Sunita Soren claimed that she had not eaten anything for the last three days. “She had no Aadhar card, ration card. And there was nothing at home to eat,” Sunita said.
Tisri, has a history of middlemen exploiting the poor villagers. Often they take bribe to get any government related work done. “Budhni had even an Indira Awas, but roof is fixed. And someone had even withdrawn the money from her account,” alleged Dhanmendra Yadav of Tiger Force. Tiger Force, is a social organization, meant to fight corruption and Dhanmendra is a resident of Gumgi village, near Sewatand.
Significantly, the Mukhiya of Thansinghdih Panchayat Baleshwar Rai also stated that the villagers had informed him about the tribal woman dying due to starvation.
“When I got the information, I came for inquiry and all people told me that she died from hunger. If I would have known it earlier, I would have arranged everything,” said the panchayat head Rai.
However, when contacted Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Ravi Shankar Vidyarthi, he refuted all the statements. “There was food in her house. Block Development Officer (BDO) found rice and potatoes and he has made a video of it too,” he informed eNewsroom.
But villagers alleged that the food grains had been kept at Budhni’s house, after her death.
The MLA of Rajdhanwar, under which Tisri block falls, Rajkumar Yadav, told eNewsroom, “I had raised Santoshi Kumari and Baijnath Mahto’s hunger death case inside assembly. And the most important aspect in all these cases is that administration in such cases claim that they have died from cold and not hunger, and they never conduct postmortem of the deceased.”
No post mortem was conducted for Budni’s dead body too, informed a source.
Significantly, Tisri is also native block of first chief minister of Jharkhand and Jharkhand Vikash Morcha (JVM) chief Babulal Marandi.