250 tribals protest for ration cards in Palghar, booked
More than 250 tribals were booked by the Palghar police on Thursday for staging a sit-in protest in front of the tehsil offices, demanding ration cards as they were denied foodgrains by the state government.
The agitation entered its third day on Friday, though no arrest was made so far.
The government had stated that tribals who do not have ration cards will be issued the same after they apply before the tehsil offices, said Vivek Pandit, ex-MLA and president, Shramjeevi Sanghatana, a tribal welfare outfit which is organising the stir.
So far, around 19,000 applications are lying pending before the tehsil offices in Palghar, Raigad, Nashik and Thane districts since the past few weeks and till now only a small fraction of the applicants were issued new ration cards, said Pandit. No reason is being given for the delay in the new ration cards issuance, said Pandit.
The protestors are also demanding work under the employment guarantee scheme (EGS), said Pandit.
The tribals wore face masks and maintained social distance and a group of 50 protestors sat opposite the tehsil offices in batches, said Pandit. Without a ration card, the tribal cannot get rice, wheat, pulses, edible oil and other essential commodities, but the government is delaying in issuing the cards, he said.
Pandit had petitioned before the HC recently, where the court ordered the state government to issue ration cards to those tribals who do not possess such and with which essential commodities could be procured. Now it seems that the issuance of the ration cards will be a distant dream for the tribals he added.
The group alleged that the police were registering the offences in the night and not during day time when the agitation takes place and this itself reflects their intention.
A spokesperson of the Palghar police have confirmed that around 250 tribals have been booked under sections 188 (disobedience), 269 (spread of infection) of the IPC and relevant sections of the Epidemic Act and National Disaster Management Act, 2005, though no arrest was made.