Alawati Devi, widow of Motka Manjhi and her son Suresh Manjhi at their hut. Courtesy: Dainik Jagran
Ranchi: With the exit poll indicating a thumping victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 Lok Sabha Election, the Raghubar Das-led BJP government in Jharkhand had been busy celebrating. On the other hand, on May 22, the eve of election result, Motka Majhi, a tribal belonging to the Maal Pahadia community breathed his last in the state because of hunger.
Maal Pahadia is one of the 75 tribal groups which has been categorised as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). The PVTG are the marginalised sections of the scheduled tribes in India.
According to Dainik Jagran, a Hindi daily, 50-year-old Manjhi, a daily wage labour, residing in Uper Rengani village in the Jama block of Dumka, had not been getting work since the implementation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). For a fortnight, Majhi had been surviving on Taadkun (Toddy Palm) fruit. Following his death on May 22, Manjhi’s wife Alawati Devi and son Sunil Manjhi performed his last rites. Majhi is survived by two other sons, who are poor daily wage labourers.
According to the villagers, when Majhi died, there was no ration in his house.
The family, while talking to the reporters, also claimed that they neither had a ration card nor Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) job card. They were yet to be sanctioned a home under Prime Minister’s Awas Yojna.
They added that Majhi used to work at a brick kiln, but had not been getting work since the implementation of MCC.
Village head Rajendra Yadav, immediately after Majhi’s death, reportedly provided 15 kg ration to the family.
Block Development Officer (BDO) Sadhu Charan Deogam, too, has reportedly sent 10 kg rice to the family. However, he claimed that the in-laws of the deceased were in Ramgarh, another block in Dumka, where they had gone to cast their vote. They had a pink card which entitles every member of the family to get 5 kg ration every month.
“There is no question of starvation death. It might have happened from some other reasons and after performing the last rites, they (his family) are claiming that he (Manjhi) died from hunger,” the newspaper quoted the BDO as saying.
However, this is not the first case of alleged starvation death in Jharkhand. At least 19 people before Majhi have died of hunger in Jharkhand in the last two years.