KOLKATA: A group of 50-odd widows from Birsingha village in West Midnapore district of West Bengal turned up at the district magistrate’s office and alleged that none of them had received a pension for widows under a welfare scheme launched by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Ironically, Birsingha is the birthplace of Bengal’s renowned educationist and social reformer of the 19th century Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, who stood tall against the conservative power centres of Hindu society and played a pivotal role in the enactment of the law for widow remarriage during the British Raj.
The widows arrived at the DM’s office and alleged that they had requested the local ruling party leaders and the local civic bodies to enrol them as beneficiaries of the scheme.
“We are from Vidyasagar’s birthplace. He fought for the widows against all odds. It is shameful that no one from the administration paid heed to our plea,’’ said Shabari Mandi, one of the widows.
Chhabi Patra, another widow, said, “We heard the DM listens to complaints on every Monday from 11 am to 1 pm at the district administrative building. So, we decided to meet her and narrate our plight. But the DM told us that we would have to apply to the office of the local block development officer. We returned home empty-handed.”
Bharatai Patra said her husband passed away more than a decade ago.
“I met the local Trinamool leaders. I requested the local gram panchayat members as well. Nothing happened,” she alleged.
“We have not been given the benefit of the scheme because we could not pay a bribe to the local party’s leaders.”
DM Reshmi Kamal said names of beneficiaries under the pension scheme for widows are enrolled at the BDO’s office.
“Besides, new names are not being included. I asked the local BDO to give priority to the applications of these widows when approval for enrolling new names comes,” she said.
Arindam Dasgupta, the BDO of Ghatal, said every block had a limited quota of beneficiaries because of which many deserving people cannot be enrolled.