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Panel confirms starvation death,villagers up in arms

Even as a fact-finding team has confirmed that Dev Narayan,a resident of the Jari village,had died due to starvation,hundreds of villagers have decided to court arrest in protest against the FIR against 13 villagers.

Written by Express News Service | Allahabad | Published: August 25, 2009 3:33:06 am

Even as a fact-finding team has confirmed that Dev Narayan,a resident of the Jari village,had died due to starvation,hundreds of villagers have decided to court arrest in protest against the FIR against 13 villagers. The FIR was lodged after they had blocked the Riwa road protesting against the Narayan’s death.

“The police want to arrest 13 people to quell the agitation,but around 500 people are ready to court arrest. Let the administration slap the NSA on us,” said Ashish Mittal,a villager.

The district administration had earlier denied that Narayan died due to starvation,with the DIG,Allahabad,Chandra Prakash saying that action would be initiated against the agitators under the NSA.

Interestingly,the fact-finding team sent by the All India Kisan Majdoor Sabha (AIKMS) to ascertain the cause of Narayan’s death has noted in its report that he died of starvation. The team had visited the village and talked to the wife and children of Narayan and neighbours on Sunday.

Reacting to the report,the villagers held a meeting on Monday and decided to fight the case of Narayan,demanding a judicial probe into his death.

The report said Narayan’s house is in a dilapidated condition. On August 18,the day he died,the family had only 1 kg of rotting mahua and 50 gm of sugar as edibles. Just before his death,according to the report,he tried to have a few bites of a chapati with salt,and passed away a few moments later.

His house has only one cot,2 thin spread sheets,some old clothes and a few utensils.

The deceased had a bank account,number 11594982293,since 2003. At present,it has a balance of Rs 19,761. Narayan had sold 18 biswas of land in 2006 for Rs 92,000 to meet the debts he was running and the remaining amount was spent sporadically on food for survival since then. After selling his land,the report noted,he was burdened with the guilt of not being able to do anything for his children. He,hence,did not withdraw from the balance further and continued to live in penury.

Nearly a month ago,a local farmer had employed him to look after his guava orchard for Rs 700 per month and one meal daily. Narayan would often give the meal to his two children,said the report.

“Dev Narayan did not possess the NREGA job card or Antyodaya or BPL card. His family did not get any support from any of these schemes. It clearly shows he died after prolonged starvation,” said Vijay,a member of the team.

The report pointed at the indifferent attitude of the administration towards the family and slammed the authorities,which had highlighted the deceased’s bank account as an alibi to deny starvation.

The Allahabad police on August 21 had lodged FIR against 13 named and 25 unidentified persons under various sections of IPC including 147 (Rioting) and 504 (Provocation intend to breach of peace),506 (Criminal Intimidation). The FIR was lodged against the villagers who had protested and blocked the road over the death of Narayan.

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