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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Tribal women to boycott polls for not receiving ration for years

On April 18, the women wrote a letter to chief minister Raghubar Das, saying they had decided not to vote and go on an indefinite hunger strike to fight the injustice.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2019 15:20 IST
Manish Raj
Manish Raj
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
BJP,Lok Sabha,elections
In 2016, Ranchi deputy commissioner was informed of irregularities in the PDS.(HT Photo)

A group of tribal women of Kutachawali village under model gram panchayat Parasi in Tamar block, around 60 kms from the state capital, have decided not to exercise their franchise for the Lok Sabha elections after allegedly being denied rations under the public distribution scheme for more than three years.

The group comprises eight women, Chandmani Kumari, Bari Devi, Sundar Mani Kumari, Gayatri Devi, Phulmani Devi, Kunti Devi, Atwari Kumari and Chudamani Kumari. There are over 40 people, including children of their families. These women are daily wage workers in and around the state capital.

They have written several letters to authorities, copies of which are with HT, bringing to their notice the poor public distribution system as a result of which families were forced to starve. The authorities include block district level officials, the district legal services authority, lokayukta and the chief minister. Mathura Sahu of Kisan Jan Adhikar Manch, a social organisation for tribals, said these women had not only decided to boycott the polls on May 6 in the Khunti constituency, but also fast unto death unless their genuine demands were met.

On April 18, the women wrote a letter to chief minister Raghubar Das, saying they had decided not to vote and go on an indefinite hunger strike to fight the injustice.

Ram Singh Munda, a relative of Phulmani Devi, said that if the families were not provided ration for the pending 40 months, they would commence fast unto death from May 5, a day before the elections.

Earlier on March 15, 2016, a letter signed by 16 village residents had been sent to the deputy commissioner of Ranchi complaining that the residents were provided lesser quantities of food items than the stipulated limit, but to no avail. The letter stated that the public distribution system in the village was managed by members of the local sarna samiti (a tribal local committee) since 2010. Then in June that year, the women complained that 213 villagers were issued BJP cards, but they did not receive ration.

However, it is learnt that the secretary of district legal services authority on December 1, 2017 forwarded a 41-page letter to the DC of Ranchi for grant of ration to them.

As no action was taken, the women had sent a representation to the office of the Lokayukta on October 30, 2018. It said that the women had gone to the office of the block supply officer on several occasions for enrolling in the online system for PDS distribution. But they were asked to come back later.

“As we work on daily wages, it was not possible for us to leave our source of livelihood, and repeatedly go to the supply office,” the letter said, requesting the Lokayukta for grant of rations.

Block Development Officer, Tamar, Rahul Kumar said, “The block authorities would conduct an inquiry to redress the grievances of the aggrieved people.”

In 2016, Ranchi deputy commissioner was informed of irregularities in the PDS.

On April 18 this year, they wrote a letter to CM announcing their decision to boycott polls The women announced that they would start fast unto death from May 5, a day ahead of the polling.

First Published: Apr 27, 2019 15:20 IST