Personal tools
You are here: Home Archives Hunger Alerts 2005 Hunger Alerts INDIA: Villager commits suicide in West Bengal due to hunger and lack of concern by authorities
Navigation
 

INDIA: Villager commits suicide in West Bengal due to hunger and lack of concern by authorities

Bighna Bhuiyan, who was unable to sustain either himself or his family due to abject poverty, committed suicide in Bhuiyanpara Village by hanging himself from a tree on August 21, 2005. Bighna and his family of six lived in a mud house. In order to earn a living Bighna worked as a day labourer. However, it was often difficult to find work, especially during the monsoons and Bighna found it increasingly hard to provide adequate food for his family. As a consequence, Bighna soon began to suffer from various disorders related to malnutrition.

HUNGER ALERT HUNGER ALERT HUNGER ALERT HUNGER ALERT HUNGER ALERT

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

9 September 2005

---------------------------------------------------------------------
HA-21-2005: INDIA: Villager commits suicide in West Bengal due to hunger and lack of concern by authorities

INDIA: Death due to poverty and starvation; government neglect and inaction
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received disturbing news from Masum of the death of a villager who committed suicide due to poverty and starvation in West Bengal on August 21, 2005. Bighna Bhuiyan, a resident of Bhuiyanpara Village, Kumarganj Block, South Dinajpur District was struggling to provide food for his family and was allegedly suffering from various malnutrition related diseases. Bighna’s death occurred despite the government's claims to various sustainable schemes for the poor. It also occurred despite Bighna’s pleas for assistance to the village Panchayat.

There have been several other cases of death due to malnutrition and poverty in the past year in Bhuiyanpara Village. Those villagers enlisted under the BPL (Below Poverty Line) are also failing to receive any help. The district administration seems to be entirely ignorant of the imminent situation in the village and without immediate help, many more deaths due to starvation and hunger are certain.

The AHRC asks for an immediate investigation into this case in the hope that justice may be sought and no further deaths occur. Furthermore, we hope that those authorities that were capable of preventing this death are held responsible for their inaction.

Urgent Appeals Desk - Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
-----------------------------------------------------------

DETAILED INFORMATION:

Victim: Bighna Bhuiyan
Location: Bhuiyanpara Village, Kumarganj Block, South Dinajpur District, West Bengal

Bighna Bhuiyan, who was unable to sustain either himself or his family due to abject poverty, committed suicide in Bhuiyanpara Village by hanging himself from a tree on August 21, 2005.  Bighna and his family of six lived in a mud house. In order to earn a living Bighna worked as a day labourer. However, it was often difficult to find work, especially during the monsoons and Bighna found it increasingly hard to provide adequate food for his family. As a consequence, Bighna soon began to suffer from various disorders related to malnutrition.

His numerous pleas to the local Panchayat went unheard and he was unable to gain access to any of the schemes floated by the government for the poor, such as a BPL card, Annyapurna Yojana, or Antyaday Yojana.

Bhuiyanpara village is poor with most families living in abject poverty and suffering from starvation and malnutrition. According to villagers, there have been nine starvation-related deaths in the past year. Though the Chief Medical Officer (Health) has informed the district administration of the need for urgent food grains, nothing has been done so far in this regard. It is disturbing that instead of recognising the need for immediate food, a medical team has been provided to aid the villagers instead.

The Block Development Officer of Kumarganj, Mr. Saikat Asraf Ali appears ignorant of the starvation crisis crippling Bhuiyanpara village. Instead of recognising the extreme food shortage and the predicament the people within the village are facing, Mr. Ali instead told Masum, a human rights organisation in West Bengal that the population of the entire village seems to be addicted to alcohol and the Civil Administration is actively involved in destroying all the liquor shops. He also stated that Bighna was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, which may have led to his death.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

The state administration in West Bengal has shown negligence and inaction towards those suffering from abject hunger, as demonstrated in our previous hunger alerts. (Please see HA-13-2005, , HA-06-2005, HU-05-2005, HA-03-2005).

Despite our repeated letters highlighting the appalling situation of food related issues, no effective steps have been taken to end the suffering of the people facing this crisis. Many of the government programmes that do exist to assist the poor are besieged by problems of corruption and bureaucracy, which render them futile. Sometimes, when help does arrive, it is much too late. It is indeed unfortunate that the food granaries are full of grains, while endless people are going hungry and many are dying. At present, the issue of 'Right to Life' as enshrined in the Indian Constitution is being completely violated by the government.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the Chief Minister of West Bengal voicing your concerns over the hunger in the area and requesting that immediate assistance be provided to victims to ensure that no more starvation deaths occur. Furthermore, please ask that the appropriate authorities be reprimanded for their inaction in Bighna’s case, which ultimately lead to his death.

Sample letter:
----------------------------

Dear Mr Bhattacharjee,

Re: Villager commits suicide in West Bengal due to hunger and lack of concern by authorities

I am extremely concerned to have learned of the unfortunate death of a villager, who committed suicide due to poverty and starvation in West Bengal on August 21, 2005.

Bighna Bhuiyan, a resident of Bhuiyanpara Village, Kumarganj Block, South Dinajpur District was struggling to provide food for his family and was allegedly suffering from various malnutrition related diseases. Bighna’s death occurred despite the government's claims to various sustainable schemes for the poor. It also occurred despite Bighna’s pleas for assistance to the village Panchayat.

I am aware that there have been nine cases of death due to malnutrition and poverty in the past year in Bhuiyanpara Village. Those villagers enlisted under the BPL (Below Poverty Line) are not receiving assistance as is required, which is entirely unacceptable.  The district administration seems to be entirely unaware of the severe food shortage in the village and the real issues facing those who live there. Without the district administration’s immediate intervention and proper understanding of what is occurring in the village, many more deaths due to starvation and hunger are certain.

I therefore request you to pursue this matter with immediate priority and take genuine steps to ensure that justice is sought in this case and no further deaths occur. Furthermore, I ask that you ensure that those authorities that were capable of preventing this death are held responsible for their inaction.

Yours sincerely,


-----------------

SEND A LETTER TO:

1. Mr. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
Chief Minister/ Minister of Home Department
Government of West Bengal
Writer's Building
Kolkata - 700 001
West Bengal
INDIA
Fax: +91 33 2214 5480/ 2214 1341

SEND COPIES TO:

1. Mr. Biswanath Choudhury
Minister of Social Welfare Department
Government of West Bengal
Writer's Building
Kolkata - 700 001
West Bengal
INDIA
Fax: +91 33 2214 5452
E-mail: micjail@wb.gov.in

2. Mr. Naren Dey
Minister of Food and Supply
Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings
Kolkata - 700001
West Bengal
INDIA

3. Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen
Chairperson
West Bengal Human Rights Commission
Bhabani Bhavan, Alipore
Kolkata - 700027
INDIA
Tel: +91 33 4797259 / 5558866
Fax: +91 33 4799633
Email: wbhrc@cal3.vsnl.net.in

4. Mr. Jean Ziegler
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
c/o Mr. Carlos Villan Duran
Room 4-066, OHCHR, Palais Wilson,
Rue des Paquis 52, Geneva
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9300
Fax: +41 22 9179010
Email: sect.hchr@unog.ch 

5. Mr. Gian Pietro Bordignon
Country Director
World Food Programme
2 Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi - 110057
INDIA
Tel: +91 11 2615 0001
Fax: +91 11 2615 0019


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme -- Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Actions