A little girl sleeps on her sister’s lap in a village in Jharia, Jharkhand. Their parents are coal pickers.
An underground fire has been burning in Jharia for the last hundred years or so. The heat makes it almost unbearable to live in the region. Efforts to stop the fire have been in vain. That fire has now spread overground. The CPM recently told the 14th Finance Commission that the fire in the Jharia coalfields of Dhanbad should be considered a ‘national disaster’.
The age-old Jain practice of Santhara has been held illegal by a court, raising old questions anew. Does the state own every life under it, or does our right to life also include the right to stop living?