Aparna Ghosh’s life turned upside down when her husband died after being hit by a splinter from a cannon — blasted as part of a temple ritual in October 1997.
With an 11-month old son, the Class 10 pass woman from West Bengal’s Burdwan district was staring at a bleak future.
“I was left with nothing. I was worried about the future — my son’s and mine,” said Ghosh, 39, who lives with her parents.
Stating that the district magistrate had gone against the state Pollution Control Board’s directive of not using the cannon, the Board petitioned the Calcutta high court to give a compensatory job to Ghosh and the court ruled in her favour in May 1999.
Despite the court orders, Ghosh had to do the proverbial “running from pillar to post” at Writers’ Building in Kolkata for the job. “It was pain travelling almost every second week from our home to Kolkata, some 150 km away,” her father Ashok Kumar Basu, 71, said.
The West Bengal government obtained a stay order from Supreme Court but it was subsequently squashed again in December 1999. “But for reasons not yet clear, the government kept on telling us the case is sub-judice and declined to do anything,” Basu said.
With very little education and no exposure to the vagaries of the world, life was increasingly becoming difficult for Ghosh and her parents.
Last year, the family, through Ghosh's aunt Sikha Das, approached the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s online helpline. Thanks to this intervention, the West Bengal government acted on Supreme Court directive.
In November 2010, Ghosh was finally given a clerk's job.
The newfound financial stability is all that matters now. Ghosh said: “My earlier job earned me very less money. Now I can look forward to
spend on my son’s higher education who is now appearing for Class 10 boards.”
The family met President Pratibha Patil on Monday to thank her. When Basu told the President, “My daughter got a new life thanks to you,” Patil said, “Ask your daughter to work properly and progress.”
Rashtrapati Bhavan helpline
The online helpline portal http://helpline.rb.nic.in/, launched in July 2009, together with ordinary mail, registered letters, fax and through phone, gets about 300-400 complaints daily. “A dedicated cell for grievance redressal takes care of every single complaint. With the online option, we are able to keep the aggrieved party in loop," said Archana Dutta, officer on special duty (communications) at Rashtrapati Bhavan.