The family members of Santoshi Kumari, the 11-year-old girl who died allegedly due to lack of ration in Jharkhand’s Simdega district on September 28, were allegedly harassed and heckled by villagers in Karimati village on Friday night for “bringing them a bad name”.
On Saturday morning, Koyli Devi, Santoshi’s mother, and her four daughters was found in a house a few kilometers from their home in Karimati, but officials of the district administration swung into action and brought her back home.
Officials said they would register an FIR if she lodged a formal complaint. Activist Tara Mani Sahu, who has been leading the cause for the family, said, “I was in Ranchi, when I got to know this morning that Koyli Devi and her daughters vhad come to my home (in nearby Patiamba). I was told that their house in Karimati village had been ransacked and their belongings thrown in a pit (that had been dug for the construction of a toilet) outside her house. I then asked them to get their statement recorded and have it sent. In the statement, Koyli said villagers had heckled them last evening. I then informed the administration.”
Sub-Divisional Police Officer (Simdega) A K Singh, however, said there were no signs of vandalism at Koyli Devi’s house in Karimati. “We have got her to come back to the house and given her security. If she gives a written complaint, we will register an FIR. She has said that villagers were angry with her for bringing them a bad name’ to themhe said.
Sahu alleged that PDS dealer Bhola Sahu, whose licence has been suspended for allegedly denying ration to Koyli Devi and her family because her Aadhaar was not linked with her ration card, had instigated people in the village to threaten the family.
PDS dealer Bhola, however, denied his role in threatening the family. “Why do I need to go that village? Though my licence has been suspended, I know I have not done anything wrong. There was no way I could have given her ration because there was no Aadhaar link. But it is also a fact that I have always given the family whatever I could because I knew that they were poor. But every time I would remind the family that they needed to get their Aadhaar card linked, they would promise to do it the following month. It never happened. There was a limit to which I could have helped,” he said.
Simdega Deputy Commissioner Manjunath Bhajantri said there were “extreme contradictions” in Koyli Devi’s statement. “While she is claiming to have been harassed, the villagers have expressed complete surprise. We are still investigating. We are also keeping an eye on people spreading rumours and action will be taken if we find that fake information is being spread on social media.”