Hunger trumps politics in Bengal’s tribal district -Shiv Sahay Singh

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published Published on Mar 26, 2021   modified Modified on Mar 27, 2021

-The Hindu

With basic survival at stake, the vulnerable Sabar tribe of Lalgarh have little stomach for elections

A tube well and a few houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana are new additions to Punapani village in Lalgarh, which lost seven people of the Sabar community in November 2018, reportedly due to hunger and malnutrition.

Election posters and flags are not visible in Sabar basti which is part of the Jhargram Assembly seat. The members of the tribe have little interest in Saturday’s election and do not even know the names of the candidates.

Assembly furore

The 2018 deaths sparked an uproar in the West Negal Assembly. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had then claimed that the members of the Lodha Sabars, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group ( PVTG), died of illness and old age, and liver problems caused by excessive consumption of liquor.

When this reporter visited the village, most of the women of the village were out collecting firewood or fishing at the nearby streams for molluscs.

Mithun Sabar, whose father Sudhir Sabar and mother Geeta Sabar died in November 2018, said there wasn’t much food in the house when his parents and other members of the community died. Mr. Mithun displayed the shiny, new, green ration cards which the administration has provided to members of the tribe. The names of the members of the Sabar tribe including Mithun are included as beneficiaries of RKSY 1 (Rajya Khadya Suraksha Yojana -1) scheme, where five kg subsidised food grains is given to every family member.

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The Hindu, 26 March, 2021,

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