Too old yet allowance eludes her

October 2, 2011

Country observes International Day of Older Persons
International Day of Older Persons, observed across the world yesterday, holds very little meaning for centenarian Asironnesa of Arpara village in Magura sadar upazila.
Several efforts made towards obtaining an old-age or widow allowance for Asironnessa are yet to bear fruit. Asiron is physically too weak to move from one place to another and is unable to remember the date of her impoverished husband Hanif Biswas’s death. Biswas’ death left her trying to bring up a 10-year-old son, Ershad Ali Biswas, and two daughters.
Asiron’s National Identity Card (NIC) record shows her date of birth as 3-02-1898. Her birth registration certificate carries the same date.
Her grandson Oliar Rahman approached the local UP member seeking sanction of an old-age allowance for his grandmother, but all such efforts have gone in vain for the last several years.
“I went to the UP member of our ward for my grandmother’s old-age allowance, but to no effect”, Oliar told The Daily Star.
As Asiron’s husband did not leave behind any assets for the family, she had to struggle hard to raise her children. Arzu Biswas, another of her grandsons, said that she even had to work as a housemaid in the village.
Asironnessa’s only son Ershad, who passed away in 2005, left behind four sons along with his old mother, according to her grandsons. Since the death of her son, Asiron has been surviving with financial help from her grandsons, who eke out a bare existence as sharecroppers.
“The UP member did not pay any heed to us, though we approached him several times for the allowance”, said an aggrieved Oliar.
Contacted by The Daily Star, Sheikh Rafikul Islam, Social Service Officer in Magura sadar upazila, said a six-member committee headed by the UP member concerned prepares the list of allowance recipients and sends it to the upazila authorities, after which the list is approved by the upazila committee.
When contacted, Nirmal Kumar Biswas, UP member of the ward, expressed his regret over the matter but claimed, “As nobody approached me, it was beyond my knowledge that such an aged woman lives in my area. So her name could not be enlisted for an old age or widow allowance.”
The UP member, however, promised to have Asiron’s name placed on the list next time.

-With The Daily Star input

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