A day after a Dalit died allegedly due to chronic hunger in Odisha’s Nuapada district, villagers on Friday chased away government officials who were apparently attempting to assign cause of the death to a prolonged disease.
T. K. Mohananda, 65-year-old landless daily wager of Kamkeda village under the Komna block, had died on Thursday as he had taken too little food during past one week.
“Mohananda and his family were solely depending on subsidised rice being supplied under government schemes for sustenance. However, they had not received any rice since November. Due to ill health, he could hardly go to work,” said his nephew Bhagaban Mohananda.
Mohananda’s two children are mentally challenged and beg for food to stay alive.
“Komna BDO along with his officials reached our village on Friday morning and asked us to sign a piece of paper. We told them that we would not sign without knowing its content. He said that villagers would have to approve that Mohananda died of diarrhoea and vomiting, we did not agree,” he said.
The government officials were then shouted out of the village.
Ironically, barely 24 hours after Mohananda’s death, the Nuapada district administration resumed supply of subsidised rice. Villagers alleged that the victim was getting 35 kg rice per month under the Antodaya Yojna. But with the State government implementing the National Food Security Act, the government stopped supplying rice. Despite living in penury, Mohananda was not included in the NFSA and his name was struck off from the beneficiary list.
Abani Kumar Sahoo, Komna BDO, admitted about discontinuation of subsidised rice in the area. “After the government implemented the NFSA Act, only those who had valid ration cards were considered for subsidised rice,” he said.
The BDO has blamed the villagers for not informing about Mohananda’s distress either to panchayat representatives or at the block office.
The State government is accused of making goof ups in identification of the NFSA beneficiaries. It is alleged that names of many eligible poor people have not figured in the list. Villagers demanded that Mohananda’s family immediately be included in the social security scheme, apart from payment of adequate assistance.