Jharkhand: Farmer ‘kills self’, family blames govt dues

Source: indianexpress.com

A 40-year-old farmer from Jharkhand has allegedly committed suicide by jumping into a well he got constructed under the Mahatma National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) after government authorities did not clear dues for building materials.

The incident took place in Patratu village of Chanho block in Ranchi. Family members of Lakhan Mahato said he got a dug well constructed in 2018 on his farmland at a cost of Rs 3.54 lakh. Lakhan, they said, received around Rs 2 lakh from the government and paid the rest of the amount from his own pocket. Despite several trips to the block office, he had failed to get the dues cleared and was in stress, said his family members.

Ranchi SP (Rural) Ashutosh Shekhar said, “It appears to be a case of suicide. We are waiting for the post-mortem report for more details. There does not seem to be any foul play.” Block Development Officer Santosh Kumar said, “The death seems like an accident as he was an alcoholic. Why would he commit suicide? He also had money in his account and enough means to sustain himself. The post-mortem report may help in knowing the cause of death.”

Kumar added, “Lakhan got his work done recently and the voucher was submitted only on July 25. So there is no question of not paying him money.”

The NREGA website shows as pending the material cost of cement and bricks to the tune of Rs 1.22 lakh which Lakhan paid.

Lakhan’s family members said the well was constructed last year and only the parapet was raised recently. His wife, Bimla Devi, 35, said Lakhan had taken loans ranging from Rs 30,000-50,000 from relatives for the construction of the well and remained worried about the repayment.

“On Friday morning, he woke up and left for his field. When he did not return till evening, we started looking for him. I was worried because he had been tense about the debt.”

On Saturday morning, she said, somebody found Lakhan’s belongings floating in the well and raised an alarm. “His body was found and pulled out. He died in the same well which he got constructed for irrigation. Authorities are terming his death an accident, which is completely false. I don’t know what was going on in his mind that he took such an extreme step,” she said. Bimla Devi said her husband did not have enmity with anyone in the village.

Lakhan’s 80-year-old mother said, “Who will take care of our family now…I don’t even receive my widow pension despite my son going to the block office several times to get the issue resolved…”

Lakhan’s 17-year-old son Suraj said that since the past one month, his father had made “at least 15 trips” to the block office. Birbal Mahato, a relative from whom Lakhan had borrowed money, said, “He had taken Rs 30,000 from me. I never pressured him to repay, but he remained tense over the repayment.”

Three other villagers, Bhim Yadav, Raju Mahato and Subham Mahato are among those who got their dug wells constructed. They said that they had taken loans from friends, under the Kisan Credit Card and sold their buffaloes to arrange for the money. “We haven’t been paid Rs 1.5 lakh each since the past one year,” they said.

BDO Kumar said that there has been a backlog of payment in the district as well as the state. “Ideally, a person should not pay from his own pocket, but due to lack of funds, payment for materials were delayed to the vendors. So, many people used money from their own pocket.”

Jharkhand to bear education expenses of children if family head killed in elephant attack

Source: indiatoday.in

The Jharkhand government will provide free education to the children of a family, which has lost its only earning member to an elephant attack, an official statement said here on Thursday.

All district deputy commissioners have been apprised of the government’s decision, it said.

“If a family head dies following attack by elephants, children of that family will get free education in government schools,” said the statement issued by the office of Chief Minister Raghubar Das.

The direction came following a meeting of the Jharkhand State Wildlife Council, chaired by the chief minister, on Wednesday.

Among others who attended the meeting were Additional Chief Secretary (forest department) Indushekhar Chaturvedi, Principle Secretary to the Chief Minister Sunil Kumar Barnwal and the forest department chief Sanjay Kumar.

Special efforts are being made to reduce man-animal conflict in Jharkhand, with focus on plantation of bamboo trees in the forests – one of the major sources of food for elephants, the statement said.

An “underpass will be constructed between Ranchi and Jamshedpur for the safe passage of elephants” along the forested areas, it said.

According to government records, 87 people were killed in elephant attacks in the state in the 2018-19 fiscal.

Between January and June this year, at least six persons died in elephant attacks in the Ranchi forest division.

NHRC issues notice to Bihar Police over JD(U) leader’s death; family claims Ganesh Ravidas was tortured in custody

Source: firstpost.com

New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Monday sent a notice to the Bihar police chief over the death of a JD(U) leader in police custody, hours after he was picked up for interrogation in a kidnapping case. The family of the leader, identified as Ganesh Ravidas, alleged that he was tortured in police custody.

Ravidas was found hanging from the ceiling of a toilet at the Nagarnausa police station in Nalanda on Thursday night, sources earlier said. Three policemen have been arrested in connection with the case.

Ravidas, who was the block president of the party’s Mahadalit cell, was picked up for interrogation in connection with the kidnapping of a girl, wherein he was not named as an accused, the sources had said.

“The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that a local leader of the ruling JD(U) in Bihar, who was detained by the Nalanda police in connection with a kidnapping case, allegedly hanged himself inside the police station late on Thursday night,” the NHRC said in a statement.

The commission observed that the content of the news report, if true, amounted to a gross violation of the right to life. “Accordingly, the commission has issued a notice to the Director General of Police (DGP), Bihar, calling for a detailed report in the matter within six weeks,” the NHRC stated.

The police authorities had also been told to explain as to why intimation in this regard was not given to the commission within 24 hours of the occurrence of the incident, the rights panel said. Ravidas was detained by police on 11 July night in connection with an alleged kidnapping of a girl residing in his village.

He was suspected to have helped the girl elope, the NHRC said, quoting media reports. When police interrogation was on, he went to use a washroom, which was outside the lock-up, where he reportedly hanged himself, it said.

“The news report further reveals that the victim was killed by the police station in-charge and chowkidar. It is also stated that there were cut marks on the body of the deceased, suggesting it to be a case of torture in police custody,” the statement read.

Teen’s death sparks tension in Bihar town; family says she was raped, killed

Source: hindustantimes.com

A 16-year-old girl’s death in Bihar’s Bhabua triggered tension in the town on Wednesday after her family alleged she was gang-raped and murdered by three men on Tuesday night.

The victim’s elder sister has accused three men of raping and killing her and filed a complaint at Bhagwanpur police station against two named and one unknown person belonging to a minority community.

Police, however, claimed that the girl has committed suicide and that the postmortem examination of her body has not confirmed rape.

“Prima facie, it seems to be a case of suicide due to a love affair. Police are investigating the case and trying to identify the people who have abetted the girl to end her life,” superintendent of police Dilnawaz Ahmad said.

The postmortem examination was conducted by a medical board at the district hospital in Bhabua and the body was sent to Varanasi for cremation under police protection on Wednesday.

The elder sister also alleged that Saish Ali, the son of Munnu Ansari from the adjacent village of Awasan, was dating the girl and often met her. She claimed her sister had revealed the names of two accused before she died. The girl had no reason to commit suicide as she had gone to the bank to withdraw money, the sister said.

The victim had gone to a bank in Bhabua on Tuesday morning. Her elder sister got a phone call in the evening from Ejaz Ansari alias Sonu, a resident of adjacent village Awasan who works as a nurse with a private hospital in Bhabua. Ansari told the sister that the girl was critical and admitted in the hospital he works for.

The elder sister rushed to the hospital but was asked to deposit Rs 4,000 towards the girl’s treatment before being allowed to meet her. She called a relative and arranged for the money. They also arranged for an ambulance to take away the girl to Varanasi but she died on the way around midnight.

“The accused had raped and poisoned my sister to destroy evidence. They admitted her in a private hospital without the knowledge of police and informed me at the eleventh hour when she was collapsing,” she alleged.

Nirmal Yadav, head of the victim’s village, said the girl’s parents work in Gujarat and left behind their two daughters at home.