Desperate and angry, Bihar flood victims loot relief materialOctober 7th, 2008 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS
Patna, Oct 7 (IANS) Desperate for food and drinking water over a month after the Kosi river swamped hundreds of villages in Bihar, angry flood victims have now taken to blocking highways, attacking officials and even looting relief materials.Fed up over repeated promises and tired of requesting for relief, villagers have resorted to violence to draw the government’s attention to their plight.
The latest act of desperation was seen in Araria district, one of the worst-hit by the calamity, when a mob of flood victims looted relief material Monday evening, police said.
Officials said the victims broke open the lock of the room in which the aid was kept in Harinath Goshala under Forbesganj sub division in the presence of police personnel.
Superintendent of Police (Araria) M.A. Siddiqui said action would be taken against those involved.
The relief material that was looted was sent by the Gurgaon based Arya Kendra Sabha and was estimated to be worth around Rs.2 million.
In a separate incident, angry flood victims vandalised the Bardharakothi block office in Purnia district Monday after staging a protest against the Block Development Officer (BDO) for not providing relief due to them.
“The flood victims attacked the BDO and pelted stones at him for depriving them of benefits announced by the government,” an official said.
As the situation turned tense, police resorted to baton charging the mob in which over a dozen people were injured.
In the last four days, hundreds of people blocked national highways in Saharsa, Supaul, Purnia, Araria and Madhepura districts to demand food. They said they had not been provided relief and other materials.
Last week, dozens of angry flood victims, including women and children, looted relief material in Saharsa, Madhepura and Supaul.
“There have been several protests by flood victims. In their desperation, they may turn very violent,” said an official of the disaster management department.
It has been over one-and-a-half months since the Kosi breached its embankment in upstream Nepal, flooding hundreds of villages in Bihar.
More than three million people were rendered homeless and over one million cattle were affected by floods. The calamity has claimed over 191 lives, according to official estimates. However, voluntary agencies fear the number could be in thousands once all the bodies are recovered.
Officials said 993,992 people have been evacuated to safer places till date. About 370,000 people have taken shelter in over 300 relief camps in the flood-affected areas.