Nilambar Dhangdamajhi, a 22-year-old tribal farmer from Kalahandi district, whose right palm was chopped off by a labour contractor in December 2013, died last evening.
Dhangdamajhi, suffering from an unknown fever for last few days, passed away at his home in Nuaguda village of Kalahandi’s Jaipatna block. His wife Manjula and two kids were by his side. “We did not have enough money to treat him at a hospital,” his wife said.
It was sometime in December 2013, when labour contractor Parvesh Duni, and his aides, chopped the right palms of Dhangdamajhi and Dialu Niyal, a Dalit youth from Kalahandi, for not agreeing to his demand of travelling to Andhra Pradesh. Duni, who had paid 12 labourers including Dhangdamajhi Rs 14,000 each to work at a brick kiln in Andhra Pradesh, was furious after 10 of them gave him the slip.
Dhangdamajhi and Niyal, too, tried to escape, but were caught and spent a harrowing fortnight suffering physical and verbal abuses from the labour contractor and his accomplices. The labour contractor demanded Rs 1.4 lakh for the 10 people who were paid in advance but slipped away. On the night of December 15, in a forest of Bolangir district, a drunk Duni and his men asked the two: “Do you want your hand or leg chopped?” Nilambar told the contractor that if they have legs at least, they could walk for the rest of their lives. Within minutes, the labour contractor and his men had chopped the palms of the two migrant labourers. The two somehow managed to run before reaching Bhawanipatna town of Kalahandi, where the locals took them to the district headquarters hospital.
It was only after Supreme Court’s intervention in January 2014 when the government took note of his plight and sanctioned Rs 6.75 lakh to him and Niyal. They got another Rs 1.25 lakh under SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act. They were allotted a homestead land and a house under the state government’s Mo Kudia Yojana. They got prosthetic limbs from Christian Medical College, Vellore, but it did not help them use their right hand effectively.
After his palm was chopped off, Dhangdamajhi was given a NREGS job card, and a house, but he said it’s of no use. “I feel helpless that I can’t work to run my home. My wife works as daily labourer, but work is not available after monsoon. How long would the money last,” he told The Indian Express last year.