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Posted Online on Thursday 14, April 2005 10:30 IST


Murshidabad starvation deaths
MG takes the initiative, PIL filed

By Zafarul-Islam Khan

Published in the print edition of The Milli Gazette (16-30 April 2005)

The Central and state governments continue to disregard the ongoing starvation deaths in Jalangi area of Murshidabad district of West Bengal. Human rights outfits, NGOs and Muslim organisations failed to start any practical work in the area despite some fact-finding efforts. This led MG to take the initiative despite its limited resources. Our efforts are directed to two fronts: (a) provision of urgent food relief so that no more starvation deaths may take place and (b) filing a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India in order to force the central and West Bengal governments to take notice of the issue. 

Our representative is already in Jalangi since 25 March. He is visiting the affected villages which are spread over a large area along River Padma which has eaten away farmlands leaving many farmers penniless and starving in the process. He is also distributing food packets to families in serious condition and has also offered clothes to half-naked women in the area who could not afford two pieces to cover themselves properly. He is also in the process of providing sewing machines to poor women and widows so that they may start earning a living. Our rep is also studying the possiblity of providing small interest-free loans to the poor in order to enable them to start small businesses.

Since no private organisation or NGO can change the situation without massive government help, the PIL has been filed to force the central and state administrations to take note of the situation and work for the long-term rehabilitation of the affected populations including offering the affected people alternative farmlands or jobs. The PIL may come up for hearing within one to two weeks.

In the meantime a booklet, Murshidadabd Starvation Deaths has been compiled incorporating details of the starvation deaths and a section on Murshidabad starvation deaths has been added to the MG website. This booklet is being sent to media organisations, members of Parliament, ministers and other important persons and organisations to take note of the situation and stand up for the poor people of Jalangi who continue to die due to the lack of interest of the civil society which has failed them miserably. While you read this report I will be in Jalangi to assess the situation myself. 

MG has also taken the initiative to register a charity organisation so that funds are always available to meet emergency situations. Details will be published here in due course.

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