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Govt of India reacted to just 2 of 20 starvation deaths in a yr: 7 weren't issued ration card, 5 had aadhaar issues

By Our Representative
Close on the heels of a series of reports on starvation deaths Jharkhand, the Right to Food Campaign (RFC) has revealed that over the past year, at least 20 persons have succumbed to starvation across the country – 12 in Jharkhand, three in Karnataka, three in Uttar Pradesh and two in Odisha. The deceased range from 11-year-old Santoshi Kumari to 67-year-old Etwariya Devi.
"All the victims were either Dalit, Adivasi, Other Backward Class (OBC) or Muslim. In at least 11 cases, Aadhaar-related failures directly contributed to starvation. In all the cases, the victims’ intake of food drastically reduced due to disruptions in access to subsidised foodgrains and social security pensions", says RFC.
According to RFC's analysis of the 20 deaths, "Seven of the starvation victims were not issued a ration card. In the latest case of Chintaman Malhar in Ramgarh (Jharkhand) the entire village had not been issued ration cards. Ration cards of two families were cancelled as they were not linked with Aadhaar."
In an email alert to Counterview, it adds, "In five of the cases, either no member of the family could authenticate his/her identity through Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA), or the one who could was unable to go to the ration shop due to old age or illness. In one case, the dealer did not give ration even after successful Aadhaar-based biometric authentication."
RFC further says, "At least seven of the victims were entitled to social security pension." However, it regrets, "Premani Kunwar’s widow pension amount of a few months was transferred into the bank account of some other person which was linked with her Aadhaar number. A few days before her death when Etwariya Devi attempted to withdraw her pension, she was told that the electronic transaction for withdrawal of her pension has failed. However, her bank records show a transaction of Rs 600 (the monthly old age pension amount in Jharkhand) on the same day."
Then, RFC adds, "Savitri Devi was sanctioned a widow pension in 2014, but did not receive her first pension instalment till four years later as her bank account was not linked with Aadhaar. It is quite likely that the other victims who were to receive social security pension could not access this entitlement for one reason or another."
RFC points out, "Except the probe ordered into the death of Santoshi Kumari and post-mortem for Meena Musahar, the Union government has not reacted to any of these tragic deaths. Instead of taking corrective measures, state government and local administration expend their energy in denying starvation as the cause of these deaths – even harassing the surviving members of the family in some cases."
It adds, "For every person who has died, hundreds other languish with hunger, undernutrition and illness. Instead of expanding people’s legal entitlements to social support, the last few years have seen a brutal attack on people’s right to food, work, employment, natural resources, education etc."
In the light of this, RFC has demanded, as immediate measure, criminal proceedings against officials and functionaries whose lapses have led to the starvation deaths; strict implementation of all social and economic legislations and Supreme Court orders; universalization of the Public Distribution System and social security pensions; amendment of the National Food Security Act to make subsidised pulses and edible oil legal guarantees under the PDS and mandatory inclusion of eggs in midday meals and Anganwadis extended to holiday periods; and delinking of Aadhaar from all public services.
List of 20 starvation deaths, released by RFC

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