A 60-year-old woman of Pardhi tribe died of cold in the wee hours of Tuesday in Betul city, about 220km from here, community members have alleged.
The woman, Dhemna Bai, belonged to one amongst the 100-odd families which have been awaiting rehabilitation for last seven years after being ousted from their village, Chothia, following murder, arson and rioting in 2007.
The district administration has, however, denied that the woman died due to cold weather, and said that the families’ rehabilitation was underway. The displaced families live in temporary shanties in Betul city.
The MP High Court, while hearing a petition of MP Human Rights Commission earlier this year, had asked the chief secretary to present an affidavit on the status of rehabilitation. The MPHRC had moved HC in 2010 after government failed to implement its recommendations on rehabilitation of the families.
The Pardhi Punarwas Sangh – association of the affected Pardhi families – has alleged that despite submitting a memorandum to the district administration last week demanding protection from the cold weather and early rehabilitation, no action was taken leading to the woman’s death.
Alasya Pardhi of the Sangh has also alleged that in last seven years 18 persons of affected families had succumbed to cold. On Tuesday, the association submitted a memorandum to the superintendent of police of Betul, demanding registration of criminal case against the district officials responsible for the death of Dhemna Bai.
Betul district collector Dnyaneshwar Patil, however, said the weather wasn’t cold enough yet to cause human loss of life and preliminary inquiry had revealed that the woman was ailing and died due to old age.