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The Telegraph of Calcutta focused once again last week on governmental neglect of the Birhor in India’s Jharkhand state.

On Monday, May 11, a 22 year old pregnant woman, Jiramuni Devi, was examined by an auxiliary nurse-midwife in the village of Tulbul, Bokaro District in Jharkhand. She was nearing the end of her pregnancy. The nurse found her condition to be stable and gave her some medicines. A couple hours later, however, at 4:30 in the afternoon, her condition began to deteriorate. She started rapidly losing fluids and blood, so villagers called the nearest hospital in Gomia, 70 km away. They said that she urgently needed an ambulance.

When the ambulance failed to come, several other villagers called and said the situation was an emergency. The ambulance never came and at 8:30 the woman died.

Pramod Kumar, the civil surgeon of Bokaro District, ordered an inquiry into the matter and visited the village himself to investigate. Apparently the village chief himself had contacted the hospital when the woman’s pain became unbearable, but, the doctor said, “the ambulance could not reach Tulbul.”

The Telegraph concludes that the incident undercuts the claims of the Bokaro District government that it is protecting the Birhor people. The same paper has been publishing stories about the Birhor almost monthly ever since the tragic deaths of eight villagers back in October. Those deaths, and the one last week, appear to have been caused, in part, by government blunders, corruption, and indifference to the Birhor. The presence of Naxalite terrorists in the area may also be to blame.