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"Failure" to link aadhaar with BPL ration card main reason for Karnataka Dalit family starvation deaths: PUCL report

The hut in which Nagamma family lives
By Our Representative
A People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Karnataka, investigation has revealed that Jharkhand is not alone where starvation deaths have taken due to lack of the aadhaar document. A report based on the investigation by Narasimhappa TV was prepared following a news story citing opposing claims of the reasons for three deaths in a Dalit family in a village in Gorkana district in July this year.
The PUCL report said, the family of Nagamma Ganpathi Maru Mukhri, a widow, and four children, have a below poverty line (BPL) ration card. The three of her four sons who died are Narayan Maru Mukhri, Subbu Maru Mukhri and Venkatarammna Maru Mukhri.
The family is entitled to 35 kilos of rice every month, but, says Nasamhappa’s report, “The last time they got ration on the ration card was on November 22, 2016 and December 17, 2016, as mentioned in the ration card”, and the “quantity they got was 28 kilos rice, 6 kg wheat, and 1kg sugar in six months.”
“On March 27, 2017, again, 35 kilos of rice were provided. However, they didn’t get any ration for six months this year, except in the month of March, on the grounds that they have not linked their ration card with their aadhaar card”, the report says.
The PUCL decided to undertake the investigation following the claim by the district commissioner that the deaths took place because of “excessive consumption of alcohol by the three victims”.
Noting that Nagamma and two of the four sons of in the family did not have aadhaar cards, PUCL says, Nagamma admitted, she had a ration card and would get monthly ration, adding, she never faced problem with getting food, when they failed to get job as daily wagers.
“However, the problem arose when the Food and Civil Supplies Department demanded that aadhaar card and ration card should be linked, as she and her two sons didn’t have an aadhaar card; therefore, they faced the problem of starvation, as during this time they were not receiving the daily wages, too”, the report states.
“She mentioned that the death of three sons was due to the irresponsibility and negligence of the Food and Civil Department, Kumuta Taluk, and the Gram Panchayat authorities, and further mentioned that the reason for the death was that they had not been provided ration facilities to the family for about seven months”, the report says.
Says the PUCL report, a local NGO Mahaganpathi Samaj Seva Sangh, on receiving information about the death of two within six days, on coming to know that the family had no food to eat, decided to provide rice, toor daal, coconut, potato, wheat and other items to it.
PUCL quotes Kumara Jeeva Hatigi, member of the NGO, as saying that he knew at least one of the deceased, Narayanna Maru Mukhri, who “was not an alcoholic person, though he was epileptic.”
Quoting the local ration shop owner, the report states, he admitted that Nagamma’s name was “not mentioned” in the list of ration recipients, “and the reason given was that the ration card and aadhaar card had not been linked.”
The food inspector of Kumuta Taluk said, the aadhaar card “had not been provided by the victims or their mother.” And the tehsildar “shockingly stated that ‘If the victims were really starving,then they could have approached dharmchatra (the place where the food is served on charity)’.”

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