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Republic Day invitee tribal couple now living in abject poverty


January 26, 2012 - Bankura

An aged tribal couple which was once 'invited' by the Central Government as special guests to attend the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi in 2008, continues to live on the brink, stung by government apathy and neglect for years.

Reeling under abject poverty and financial distress, Sahadeb Shabar has been living a life of trials and tribulation with his wife Sami Shabar in a village near West Bengal's Bankura District since the past several years.

In their seven-day stay in the national capital, Sahadeb Shabar and his wife witnessed the majestic parade, visited scores of monuments across the city and met and interacted with scores of officials and leaders, including Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.

Despite being 'assured' of a regular pension, the couple today is facing an existential crisis, with no forthcoming aid or assistance.

Too weak and old to work, Sahadeb Shabar and his wife are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet and sustain themselves.

Sitting outside their 'home'-a thatched hut with no amenities and darkness inside-Sahadeb Shabar quietly revealed his distress, in a voice that reverberated with pain.

"We were there in New Delhi for seven days at the behest of the government. Initially, I received regular pensions, but it was stopped soon after. I have not received any pension or compensation since the past seven months," rued Sahadeb Shabar.

A framed collage of carefully-preserved photographs, identity cards and other documents stand testimony to this couple's visit to the capital.

It also comes as a 'reality check,' proving that while India celebrates its democratic and Republic ideals, some of its citizens-the marginalised, the poor, the tribals-are yet to find freedom from the vicious circle of poverty and despair.

ANI

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