103 poverty-stricken indigenous families struggling to survive | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 01, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:04 AM, November 01, 2020

103 poverty-stricken indigenous families struggling to survive

Indigenous people from the Musahar community, who used to live on catching and selling eel and snail, are struggling to survive as they cannot sell eel and snail amid coronavirus outbreak.

They live at bordering Subarnakhuli village in Nilphamari Sadar upazila and Khansama upazila of Dinajpur.

During a visit to the village on Tuesday, this correspondent found that the poverty-stricken people sat idle in the area as there is no work now. It is mentionable that the same people were busy with selling of eel and snail before the pandemic.

They lost their livelihoods due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, said locals.

Ramdas Rikhiason, 65, of the village, said "We usually live by selling eel and snail to traders from different districts but the traders cannot pay regular visit to the area now due to coronavirus outbreak, badly hampering our meagre income from selling snail and eel."

During the coronavirus shutdown, the government provided food assistance to them but the food aid programme has been stopped for the last four months, he said.

Ramdas added that on the other hand, people in the country's northern region have become jobless during the lean period (mid-September to mid- November). As a result, the situation has now significantly worsened.

They are now suffering a double blow, he said.

Deepak Chakrovarti, Sadar upazila vice chairman in Nilphamari, said 103 families of Musahar community are passing miserable life as there is no work in their hand now.

Moneswar Rikhiason, 60, a community member, said "Many of us earn by working in farmland but after transplanting Aman saplings in August, there is no work now, bringing hardship to our livelihood."

A septuagenarian widow, Pugli Rikhiason from the community, said "We used to consume boiled arums in the crisis time as my only son has been sitting idle for days for want of work. Meanwhile, we have no money to buy rice."

Gadlu Rikhison and his mother Kamoni of the village were seen breaking snail's shell to bring out fleshy part. They would eat it during lunch.

Housewives Pushni and Alomuni of the same area said at present, they only eat cooked rice with salt.

College student Subel Rikhiason of the community said "While other students are preparing their lessons at home during the coronavirus situation, students of our community are struggling to make ends meet."

Contacted, Khansama Upazila Nirbahi Officer Mahbubul Islam said "We are ready to render support to the hapless indigenous people within our capacity."


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