Skip to main content

Lukhi Murmu, 30, dies of starvation in Jharkhand in yet another case of aadhaar authentication "failure"

Phulin, Lukhi Murmu's sister
By Our Representative
Another woman has died of undernutrition and exhaustion in Jharkhand after she was denied of Public Distribution System (PDS) ration for four months, allegedly due to the failure of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication. Bringing this to light, the advocacy group Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand, has said, the woman, 30, passed away on January 23, 2018.
"Lukhi Murmu of Dhawadangal village of Hiranpur block in Pakur (Jharkhand) succumbed to prolonged undernutrition and exhaustion", the Campaign said following a fact-finding team, comprising of Anand Prakash Tudu, Ankita Aggarwal, Siraj Dutta and Suraj visited the village on January 28 and spoke with Lukhi Murmu’s family members, their neighbours, and the ration dealer.
"She lived with her 14-year old sister Phulin in extreme poverty. Their meals usually comprised solely of rice and they even had to sleep hungry at times", statement said, adding, "The deprivation worsened over the last four months when they were unable to access their ration from the PDS due to Aadhaar-based biometric authentication failure."
The team found that Lukhi Murmu’s household was issued an Antyodaya ration card, meant for the poorest of the poor, under the National Food Security Act (NSA). "In around June 2017, this ration card was converted into the 'priority' category without the family’s knowledge. This reduced her household’s monthly grain entitlement by 15 kg", the Campaign said.
It added, "The household did not receive any PDS foodgrains since October 2017. Lukhi Murmu was too weak to go to the ration shop, which is about a kilometre away from their house. Phulin went to the ration shop a few times, including the day her sister died, but always returned empty handed as she was unable to authenticate herself in the ePOS machine."
"One of their other sisters also went to the ration shop once, but the dealer did not give her any rice too", it said, adding, this happened because only "Lukhi Murmu and Phulin’s Aadhaar number is seeded with their ration card, and not the other two sisters’."
Lukhi Murmu's ration card
Ironically, noted the Campaign, in his report on the death to the state food secretary, Pakur’s Deputy Commissioner ascribed illness as the cause of Lukhi Murmu’s death. "However, the report does not mention the nature of illness. No post mortem was conducted after the death. According to Lukhi Murmu’s family, she did not suffer from any major illness", it added.
"In January 2018, Lukhi Murmu was tested for tuberculosis and kala-azar, but was diagnosed negative for both these ailments", it said, adding, "The Deputy Commissioner’s report argues that Lukhi Murmu could not have died of hunger as she had some land, two cows and paddy in her house at the time of her death."
However, the Campaign said, "Lukhi Murmu did possess these assets, but that does not preclude her death due to starvation. Government officials argue that the family could have sold its land, cattle or paddy for food. The deterioration in Lukhi Murmu’s condition was gradual and there was no way for her family to predict her death."
It added, "As per the ration dealer’s testimony to the local administration, no one from Lukhi Murmu’s household came to the PDS shop in the last four months. However, to the Right to Food Campaign fact-finding team, the dealer admitted that Phulin came to collect her household’s rations but was turned away due to biometric authentication failure."
"Local officials claim to have given instructions to all the dealers in Pakur to also give PDS rations to households that are unable to authenticate themselves through Aadhaar. However, the dealer claimed to have not received any such instruction", the campaign said, recalling, "Following the hunger death of Santoshi Kumari in Simdega in September 2017, the Food Ministry issued a notification which states that even in case of failure of biometric authentication or lack of Aadhaar, ration dealers to give PDS rations to eligible households."

Comments

TRENDING

Lip-service on World Environment Day vs 'watered-down' eco-safeguards

By Shankar Sharma*  Just a few days ago, the world remembered the routinely forgotten global environment on the occasion of World Environment Day, briefly though, maybe just for the day. There were reports of a few high profile ceremonies in different parts of the country, including a few in New Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly asked the people of our country to plant one tree per each person as a mark of respect/ gratitude for our mothers.

New Odia CM's tribal heritage 'sets him apart' from Hindutva Brahminical norms

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Mohan Charan Majhi took the oath as the new Chief Minister of Odisha following the electoral defeat of the BJD led by Naveen Patnaik, who served as Chief Minister for twenty-four years. The new Chief Minister is the son of a security guard and a four-time MLA who hails from the remote village of Raikala in the Keonjhar district. He belongs to the Santali tribe and comes from a working-class family. Such achievements and political mobilities are possible only in a democratic society. Majhi’s leadership even in the form of symbolic representation in a democracy deserves celebration.

Pellet gun fire severely injures Dalit worker off Bangladesh border

By Kirity Roy*  This is regarding an incident of firing pellets by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel attached with Panchadoji Border Outpost of ‘E’ Company of 90 BSF Battalion on a Schedule Caste youth of village Parmananda under Dinhata Police Station of Cooch Behar district of West Bengal. The victim was severely injured and one portion of his face became disfigured due to pellet firing by the BSF.

Sanction to persecute Arundhati Roy under UAPA politically motivated: PUCL

Counterview Network  Top human rights group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has demanded that the authorities should immediately withdraw the prosecution against top author Arundhati Roy and Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a Kashmir academic, under the " unconstitutional"  Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  (UAPA), calling the Delhi  Lieutenant-Governor nod for the Delhi police move "politically motivated".

What stops Kavach? Why no time to focus on common trains meant for common people?

By Atanu Roy  A goods train rammed into Kanchenjunga Express on 17th June morning in North Bengal. This could have been averted if the time tested anti-collision system (Kavach) was in place. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.