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Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
Monday, 02 July 2018 14:56


TERMING them bogus, the state cancelled over 11.6 lakh ration cards over the last year. Since then, there have been at least six starvation related deaths.

Two more starvation deaths have been reported from Jharkhand within a span of ten days. The state had witnessed four suspected starvation deaths between September and December last year. The deaths had led to questions about the Raghubar Das government’s ability to ensure regular food supply to the state’s poor and needy. The government, which is run by the BJP, had earlier also come under scathing criticism for allowing problems with Aadhaar linkages to result in the denial or disruption of food grains through the public distribution system.

In fact, following the death of 11-year-old Santoshi Kumar late last year, food minister Saryu Roy had admitted that the government had taken a few missteps. However, if the details of the latest cases are anything to go by, it appears as though the lessons from previous mistakes haven’t truly sunk in. Both the deceased, who died of suspected starvation, were around 60 years old and had been forced to go without food for different reasons. However, unlike the earlier incidents, Aadhaar is not the culprit here. In the other case, 58-year-old Savitri Devi died of suspected starvation at Mangargaddi village under Dumri block of Jharkhand’s Giridih district.

According to local media, her entire family ran out of food and had nothing to eat for three days after months of not having much to eat.The family did not have a ration card was the main reason why it had no access to subsidised or free foodgrain through the PDS. The local legislator, Jagarnath Mahto, expressed his regret at the starvation death and termed it an example of the failure of the state BJP government’s inability to meet the needs and aspirations of its residents. Jharkhand has had an abysmal record of late when it comes to ensuring that all its citizens had access to food. The state has witnessed technical glitches in the delivery of rations and pension which have led to the death many of its elderly citizens as also a young girl. Incidentally, both these groups remain the most vulnerable in the times of extreme adversity.

Though the state government had initially stated that Santoshi was ill and suffering from malaria, the minister had later admitted to its mistake. “It’s a fact that the names (of Santoshi’s family) got struck off the ration list due to Aadhaar issues, which means they stopped getting ration. The cancellation of the family’s ration card was our mistake. We are on the back foot,” Roy was quoted as saying. In late October 2017, Ruplal Marandi died in Deoghar district after being denied grains as the Aadhaar-based biometric authentication of members of his family had failed. Then on December 1, a 64-year-old widow, Premani Kunwar, died of hunger and exhaustion in Danda Block of Garhwa district, Jharkhand. In her case, the Aadhaar-based payment system had redirected her pension money to a different account without her knowledge, they alleged. She was also denied her foodgrain entitlement in August and November. All these deaths took place after the Jharkhand government cancelled 11.6 lakh ration cardsclaiming that these were bogus as they were not linked to Aadhaar by their holders.

[Extracts from TOI report

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