Lockdown misery: West Bengal nomadic tribes eat boiled leaves to survive
India is under a 21-day lockdown period. PM Narendra Modi repeatedly promised that not a single Indian will be left hungry. However, lack of food was evident in the slums of Musshar, Bede and Biney communities of Harishchandrapur block in Malda district of West Bengal
A 21-day lockdown is underway across India. Central government has already announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore financial package to tackle the expected financial crisis due to the lockdown. PM Narendra Modi has repeatedly promised that efforts would be made so that not a single Indian will be left hungry. Nevertheless, the lack of food was evident in the slums of Musshar, Bede and Biney communities of Harishchandrapur block in Malda district of West Bengal.
They were given some rice and other food grains by the administration before the lockdown, a youth from the slum said. However, the five kilos of rice that was given per family was not sufficient.
Some of them are ration card holders and they brought some free rations. All families shared it and now that too is finished, the youth said, adding that, for the last few days, they have no other option but to take boiled taro leaves as food.
The young man also said that, some of them have resorted to begging, but they couldn't get much by begging during this lockdown situation. With the little amount of rice they collect, they use it to feed their children. However, adults are filling up their stomachs with only boiled taro leaves.
Musshar, Bede and Biney are nomadic tribes. But, over the years, these families have established small slums in Harischandrapur. Some of them perform street magic, some of them are snake charmers, some sell various medicinal herbs, some of them are involved in honey selling and others take up odd jobs. But during the lockdown it all went dark for them.
Anirban Basu, the BDO of Harishchandrapur, told Asianet News that he already directed Harishchandrapur Police Station to look into the matter. He also said that the local administration is trying to arrange relief material for them.
No political party has so far come out to offer them help.