HUMAN TRAGEDY PLUS POLITICAL INTRIGUE: Mom sells kid & gets him back – Poor family not on BPL list, but has voter ID – votes come before social responsibility ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Balurghat, Aug. 1: An impoverished woman but not on the BPL list has been accused of selling her month-old son for Rs 30,000.
Although the baby was tracked down and returned to the mother, the incident brought to focus the plight of those who have been deprived of government benefits under schemes meant for the BPL.
In a similar incident that shook the Malda administration last month, a widowed tribal woman, Myno Baske, was searching for buyers for her children in one of the poorest villages in the district.
Both Putul Barman of the Raghunathpur forest area of Balurghat, and Myno, have voter IDs but not BPL cards, the absence of which would deprive them of benefits once more when the Centre passes the food security law for the “really poor”. The central benefit is unlikely to reach those not on the BPL list.
Yesterday, on the request of the local people, state social welfare minister Biswanath Chowdhury saw to it that the child was returned to Putul. However, the mother is still doubtful about how she will feed her children. Her eldest is a daughter aged nine.
“My husband Sukanta is a carpenter, but he is too ill to work,” said Putul, a mother of four. She, however, denied having “sold” her son. “I gave the couple the child to bring him up. They would have at least fed him,” she said. Sukanta has gone to his brother in Bangladesh with the couple’s two children, a daughter aged 9, and a seven-year-old son. Putul stays alone here with her other three-year-old daughter and the month-old son.
The secretary of the citizens’ forum or the Nagarik Mancha, Arijit Mahanta, however, alleged that the baby had been “sold” to Paban Barman, who had promised her Rs 30,000. “Last evening we recovered the child from Paban’s house in Tior,” he said.
Balurghat municipality chairperson Sucheta Biswas admitted the Barmans had voter cards, but were not on the BPL list. “I am making enquiries to find out how they got omitted.” The minister said he had asked the social welfare department to find out the circumstances under which the child had been sold. “I have told the municipality to stand by the family.”
CROSS BORDER JUSTICE
Bangla family to be reunited – about time ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY MEHEDI HEDAYTULLAH
Islampur, Aug. 1: Krishna and Anima will be reunited with their parents in Bangladesh soon, the government of the neighbouring country has said.
The assurance comes less than a month after The Telegraph reported how red tape in Dhaka had split the Bangladeshi family of four, separating Madan and Malati Barman from their minor children when they set foot on home soil after serving a jail term in India for infiltration.
The Bangladesh deputy high commission in Calcutta wrote to the Indian external affairs ministry on Friday that Krishna, 14, and Anima, 12, were bona fide Bangladesh nationals and sought “urgent necessary steps” for their “early release and repatriation”.
“Dhaka has sent us confirmation about the nationalities of the two children and they are going to be reunited with their parents. A date for their send-back has not been set yet, but I would like to be present there personally when it happens,” Mohammed Abdul Hasan Mridha, the first secretary of the Bangladesh deputy high commission, said from Calcutta.
Gouranga Sarkar, the joint secretary of the Bengal home department, said police, the BSF and the intelligence agencies were being informed.
On June 30 this year, Madan and Malati, residents of Dharampur village in Thakurgaon district of Bangladesh, were allowed to return home.
However, the Bangladesh Rifles did not let the couple’s children in, as their names did not feature on the list provided by the Bangladesh government. Since then, Krishna and Anima have been staying at a government home — Suryodaya — in North Dinajpur’s Raiganj.
The principal of Suryodaya, Partha Sarathi Das, said: “I have told them the good news …. I am glad that their days of uncertainty are over.” The saga of separation started in September 2007 when the family entered India.They were arrested by the BSF and charged with infiltration. While the parents were lodged in the Islampur sub-jail, the two children were sent to juvenile homes in Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri.
Malati had pleaded with the Islampur court to be reunited with her children. Local lawyer Feroz Ahmed took up her plea but it was rejected. Ahmed appealed to Calcutta High Court, which allowed meetings between the parents and the children based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
But Bangladesh proved less flexible or sympathetic than an Indian court towards its own citizens by separating the minor children from their parents.
After The Telegraph reported on July 10 the “pushback” of the parents and the refusal of the BDR to allow the children into Bangladesh, the matter was taken up by a Calcutta-based NGO, Diganta. Its secretary, Utpal Roy, got in touch with the deputy high commission which, in turn, confirmed the children’s nationalities with the home ministry in Dhaka and wrote to the Indian authorities.