Cong MLAs on hunger strike over starvation death of kid in Chhattisgarh
RAIPUR: Holding Raman government responsible for a five-year-old child’s death due to starvation at a forest in Sitapur in Surguja district, Congress legislator from Marwahi, Amit Jogi entered second day of fast along with two MLAs at Gandhi Chowk in Ambikapur on Wednesday.
Demanding compensation of Rs 15 lakh for the bereaved family and providing government job to a family member, Jogi said the child's death was violation of right to food and right to work. Jogi was accompanied by Sitapur MLA Amarjeet Bhagat and Ramanujganj legislator Brahaspati Singh.
Apparently, Sangatram and his family was forced to do away with their 3.5 acres of land by a mining industry against which neither any member got employment nor did they get compensation, in violation of land acquisition Act, protestors accused.
Jogi said, "MGNREGA provides employment to villagers for 150 days but despite gram sabha of Narmadapur sending several letters for employment, villagers including Sangat Ram remained jobless. Moreover, government had issued his blue-coloured rashan card meant for people of below poverty line on September 3, 2013 (year of election) and cancelled the same soon after elections, which worsened their condition."
For last 15 months the family was deprived of grain under the much-hyped Food Security Act. "All these factors have added to the family's problems after which a dejected Sangatram had to cross 30km forest in hunt for a job, but had to return empty handed, when on the way he got separated from his sons and lost one," Jogi said adding that it was not a case of starvation death but murder.
According to locals, till Tuesday, the family was provided with only 10 kg rice and there was no food other than rice to cook at Sangatram's home, which they said displayed carelessness of administration.
Surguja district administration had earlier resisted to allow legislators observe demonstration but the MLAs said that they had democratic right to protest for justice for people and that they would continue the fast till demands are met.
Jogi and supporters have demanded the post mortem report of deceased kid to be made public and to be investigated by National Human Rights Commission. Among other demands, they have asked to pay compensation of land acquisition to the family and provide details of list of 20 questions they have released on Wednesday.
However, refuting all claims made by opposition, Surguja collector Ritu Sen clarified that no land was acquired in Narmadapur, rather, a proposal for lease agreement with land holders and Chhattisgarh Mineral Development Corporation was sanctioned two days ago wherein land owners including Sangatram would get compensation at the cost of Rs 62,500 for each acre of land per year till next seven years.
"As per my investigation, Sangatram had not applied for job card under MNREGA, but through the recent camp held in the village, he may now get the job," Sen said adding about post mortem report that it was already made public and many people have already access to it.
Sen said that the report although mentioned that the stomach of child was empty but there was gas and fecal material found in kid's intestine which, according to doctors indicate that the child had had food about 6-7 hours before death.
"Exposure to sun at the tender age of 5 and shock of being alone in forest with brother could be major reason of death. This is mainly a case of carelessness of parent who was drunk and is also mentally unstable. Hence, district administration has launched a drive and has identified at least 150 children in distress who have single unstable parent or parents in jail. They will all be rehabilitated under Integrated Child Protection Scheme," Sen said.