By SHUBHAJIT Chakraborty
Raiganj, April 16 – In the storm hit belt of North Dinajpur, angry villagers on Thursday in a desperate drive barge into a panchayat office and carry away tarpaulin sheets. The villagers also accused of corruption by officials who were in charge of relief work. It is reported that the death toll from Tuesday’s storm rose to 42 in the district.
Around 50,000 mud houses have been destroyed in six blocks of the district, including Raiganj, 40km from Karandighi.
More than thousand villagers, who have been living in the open ground for over 36 hours, raged on to the panchayat office in Karandighi block and detained tarpaulin sheets that had been sent today for distribution among the affected people.
The villagers accused of corruption by officials and said the supply for relief was terribly short of the requirement.
Around 500 tarpaulin sheets arrived in the morning that was insufficient for the large number of villagers. They started shouting slogans and showed their anger saying the number of tarpaulin were too less for them and others back in the villages.
Adding insult to the injury, the officials said they would only distribute the tarpaulin sheets after getting the list of affected families from the block development office.
Although police arrived within 10 minutes, the villagers stopped them from entering the office.
“We were too scared to stop the villagers who made away with the tarpaulin sheets. Some of them scaled the boundary wall of the office,” a panchayat official said.
Sheikh Bakhtiar of Karandighi’s Parasdhuria village said that though he realised that the seizing of the sheets was “wrong”, he was left with no option.
“I have been living in the open with my family since the storm struck,” Sheikh said. “My home is gone but I have my children to think of. What else could I have done? The government is not helping us so we have to help ourselves.”
There were also allegations that villagers who had lost their kin were not being given the entire amount of Rs 1,500 the government had promised them to carry out the last rites.