Nadia (West Bengal) [India], April 20: The last village at the India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal's Nadia district - New Shikarpur, along with two other neighbouring villages - Raninagar and Dohokola, is demanding the long-pending Schedule Tribe card this election season.
The residents of the village told ANI that several appeals had been made and letters sent to the local administration but they did not bear any result. Instead, the people were told that they needed to prove their 'Mahato identity by birth.'
An ICDC teacher, on the condition of anonymity, said, "It is becoming a task for us to prove that we are Mahato. In fact, we really do not know how to do so. People's tradition, culture, dialect takes shape based on where they stayed in the past and they take it with them wherever they go. To study that (if we belong to from Mahato community or not) officials have to come here and see for themselves, if they have doubts about our appeal."
Another resident of the village Suchitra Mahato said, "We want to ask the government why are we being denied an ST card? Officials said it can only happen if we prove our ancestry. How can thousands of people lie?"
95 per cent of families in the three villages - New Shikarpur, Raninagar and Dohokola - where people want ST cards, are dependent on farming.
Water is another issue and the villagers of New Shikarpur want the immediate implementation of 'sajol dhara' by the state government.
Although the village has several tubewells, most of them don't' work. To add their woes, the high iron content in the water makes it impossible to drink.
"We buy each barrel of water for Rs 10. We are poor and our family is big. The affordability of water is a problem. Not every family can make do with just one or two barrels. It's fine if people have to buy water once in a while but it becomes a pain if one has to buy drinking water everyday and that too for years," said a villager.
The farmers, who own land in the last village at the India-Bangladesh border fenced by concertina wire fence to check smuggling, also demand that the gate remain open from 6 am to 6 pm instead of a fixed time.
Karimpur, the constituency under which the villages come, will go to polls on April 22 in the sixth phase.
Here Trinamool Congress' Bimalendu Sinha Roy is pitted against BJP's Samarendranath Ghosh. Prabhash Majumdar is contesting in Karimpur for the Sanyukt Morcha's Left front. (ANI)