'We are having to fast without Sehri and we can’t go on like this any longer'
Hundreds of people took to the streets protesting the improprieties of public representatives in distributing relief in Sadar upazila of Jessore.
Several hundred people blocked the Jessore-Magura Highway in Bahadurpur, while another hundred people or so thronged the streets in Bashtola around 8am on Tuesday.
Their primary concern: no food aid at a time when they are confined to their homes due to a countrywide shutdown imposed after the coronavirus outbreak.
However, the protesters also said that public representatives tasked with relief distribution are wrongly giving it away to people who are well-off and aren’t in need of aid.
One of the protesters said that the Rishipara chairman had distributed relief items four times but they had not received it once, even though they were listed beforehand.
Another protester said: “We are having to fast without Sehri and we can’t go on like this any longer. People who are well-off are given relief items several times over, while we don't have any food in our homes. We don’t want to live like this. It’s better to die on the streets.”
Three hours later, Upazila Assistant Commissioner (Land) Jakir Hossain and Executive Magistrate KM Abu Nawshad visited the upazila and moved the protesters off the streets after assuring them of food aid.
Upazila Assistant Commissioner (Land) Jakir Hossain said: “We have selected two representatives for each village who list all the people in need of relief.”
On improprieties with relief distribution, Ruhul Amin, a local ward member said: “I sent requisitions for 1,700 people but only received food aid for 24 people. Insufficient allocation of food aid is the reason we cannot provide for all those in need.”
In the past few days, there have been recurring protests demanding food aid in Jessore Sadar upazila.
On April 25, the poor and unemployed in Sheikhhati union of Jessore Sadar upazila observed an hour-long demonstration protesting the lack of relief aid distribution in the area.
On April 22, over 200 unemployed poor people demonstrated at the Hajampara Level Crossing of Jessore Sadar upazila demanding food aid.