STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Malda, 7 July
Two hundred erosion victim families dwelling on the embankment at Debipur in the Ratua I block have decided to boycott the panchayat polls ‘in protest against the fake promises made by the political parties to rehabilitate them.’ Both the CPI-M and the Trinamul Congress blamed the Congress-run gram panchayat for neglecting the demand of those families.
The members of those families like Mr Murtuza Sheikh, Mr Mohammed Sahabuddin and others said that since their houses were eroded by the river Fulohar two years ago, they were compelled to take refuge under a temporary shelter on the Debipur embankment. "We were promised rehabilitation as well as issuance of fresh ration card, voter&’s card and other essential documents by the political leaders," one of the members said. "But nothing has been done for us yet and political parties have started visiting us with old promises in a new fashion which, we are sure, would be forgotten right after the polls," said another of the aggrieved citizens.
They claimed that they would abstain from casting votes in the ensuing panchayat polls if their rehabilitation is not ensured before the election.
The CPI-M zonal committee secretary of Ratua, Mr Zahur Alam, said that when Mr Sailen Sarkar was the minister of state and MLA of Ratua, he started searching land for those families’ rehabilitation. But after the change in the state power, none prioritised the issue. He blamed the Congress-run gram panchayat also. The Block Trinamul Congress president, Mr Fajlul Hoque, said: “Both the CPI-M and the Congress have befooled those innocent erosion victim families for years. We promised them that if the Trinamul wins in the locality, their grievances would be addressed with top-priority.”
The Ratua Congress MLA, Mr Samar Mukerjee, said: “I would speak to those people who have decided to boycott the panchayat elections.” The Block Development officer of Ratua I, Mr Nilanjan Tarafdar, said: “My predecessor took initiative for rehabilitation of those families. But owing to some reasons, the initiative was not actualised.” However, he said that he had no information regarding the ‘poll-boycott’ call by those families.