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Ramakanta Biswas

An elderly woman in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district reportedly mortgaged her old-age pension card and ration card to meet the expenses of a lawyer and facilitate the release of her son and daughter-in-law from jail.

Tulasi Deury (72) of Khadisol village under Baripada Sadar block is frail and unable to move around properly. While her son and daughter-in-law are in jail in connection with a murder case, the elderly woman is looking after her seven-year-old grandson.

Tulasi had a pension card while the ration card of the family was in the name of her daughter-in-law. However, in order to meet the expenses of a lawyer, she mortgaged both the cards with a middleman.

The middleman is taking all the benefits of the pension and ration cards while Deury is plucking leaves in the forest for survival. She earns Rs 100 by plucking 1000 leaves a day. 

“I collect leaves from the nearby forest and buy rice and other items after selling them. Who will take care of my grandson if something happens to me,” the elderly woman said. 

“She is struggling a lot for survival after mortgaging the ration and pension cards. I heard she mortgaged both cards for Rs 5,000,” said a relative of Tulasi. 

Tulasi mortgaged the cards with the middleman for Rs 5,000 for several years now. Every month, she visits Khadisol gram panchayat office and puts her signature, but the pension money and ration go to the pocket of the middleman, the relative added. 

According to sources, ration and pension cards of many others in the village are also mortgaged with the middleman. 

Labangalata Mahanta, a Jogan Sahayak said, “The beneficiaries come to the panchayat office and put their signatures on the register. Later, the ration is taken by the middleman. In case any beneficiary does not turn up, I can hold up ration. However, as they visit and later hand over the ration to someone else, what I can say in the matter.”

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