Hill Voice, 31 March 2020, Gobindaganj: An undeclared lockdown is already in place to prevent the spread of deadly COVID-19 infection throughout the country. People are not allowed to go out from homes. It is the working class people who have landed in the greatest trouble. However, alongside the government initiated services, various organizations and individual initiative, foodstuff and other materials are being made available at the doorstep. As per the news, food is being distributed even by awaking the persons fallen asleep.
However, the case with the indigenous Santals living in Santal Polly of Gobindaganj under Gaibandha district tells a different tale. They are deprived of all sorts of aid, helps and cooperation. As to this day, nobody has had a glance at the plight that has gripped tens of thousands of souls living in the Santal Polly, let alone reaching any help to them. Of course, it is not only for the corona threat, the Santals of Sahebganj-Baghdafarm have been left stranded with no means of livelihood since their eviction from their lands.
Pirina Hembrom is an old woman of 70 years. Her husband Nuis Soren is already rehabilitated in the bed as his age is 80 years. The couple do not have offspring to look after them. The family runs with the meagre income of Pirina Hembrom. She meets her family expenses by collecting vegetables and crabs and snails from the nearby water bodies and selling them.
Mybeti Hazdar is 65 years old. Her husband Som Hembrom is almost 75 years of age. The couple had two daughters who were already given to marriage. Her husband is yet capable of working. The family depends on his income. Som Hembrom also goes around to collect vegetables, snails and crabs and sell them for hard cash. Mybeti says that various organizations would extend helps to them earlier. But now, nobody comes to visit them. Such is the daily diary of tens of thousands of families living in Gobindaganj Santal Polly.
Shakil Alam Bulbul, Chairman of Sapmara Union Parishad says: “We are unable to provide any assistance to them for having no grant on part of the government.”
Ram Krishna Barman, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (Upazila Executive Officer) of Gobindaganj Upazilla says: “The government grant has arrived. But the grant, in respect of the demand for 17 Unions, is very less. When we get adequate grant, we will make the grant available to there also.”
In this regard, Engineer Manowar Hossain Choudhury, MP says: “Those who are categorically ‘hand-to-mouth’ class, are being provided with helps and assistance through the district administration. Besides, the Prime Minster would be informed of the already affected Santal Polly separately.”