Skip to main content

13th starvation death in Jharkhand: Family of Birhor was "denied" ration card in the absence of aadhaar

Birhor's family
Rajendra Birhor
By Asharfi Nand Prasad et al*
On July 24, 2018, 39-year old Rajendra Birhor of Chainpur village (Gram Panchayat Nawadih, block Mandu, district Ramgarh) succumbed to poor nutrition and illness. A civil society fact-finding team, which visited the village on July 26, 2018 to investigate the death of Birhor in the village, has been told that his family not issued a ration card under the National Food Security Act.
Talking to the team, which comprised of Basant Hetamsaria and Leo Singh (National Alliance of People’s Movements), Ankita Aggarwal and Siraj Dutta (Right to Food Campaign) and Sonal Tiwary (Human Rights Law Network), the Block Development Officer (BDO) admitted that the family was excluded from the Public Distribution System as it did not have Aadhaar.
As per Supreme Court orders, the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) – to which Birhors belong – are entitled to 35kg of food grain every month on an Antyodaya Anna Yojana ration card. Further, Jharkhand’s PVTG households are to get food grain free of cost at their doorstep.
Rajendra Birhor stopped working about a year ago due to extreme weakness. His wife managed to find work for only 2-3 days a week. Due to the sharp fall in the family’s income over the past year, the husband, wife and their six children routinely ate less food of inadequate nutrition. The family last worked under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in 2010-11. It also does not receive the state social security pension of Rs 600 a month for PVTG households. The BDO was unaware of this scheme.
The block development officer
About a month and a half ago, Rajendra Birhor fell seriously ill. He was taken to the Community Health Centre (CHC) in Mandu, as doctors are not available at the local Primary Health Centre. The doctor at the CHC referred him to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) at Ranchi. The doctor, whom the fact-finding team met, was unable to explain why simple procedures such as blood and urine tests were not conducted at the medical facilities in Mandu or Ramgarh.
No medicine was prescribed to Rajendra Birhor at the CHC. Unable to take Rajendra Birhor to RIMS, his family brought him back home. It paid Rs 3,000 to a local “jholachhaap” doctor for his treatment, for which it had to sell a pig. The doctor at the CHC blamed the local Sahiya (also known as ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) for not following up on Rajendra Birhor’s health.
On June 14, 2018, Chitaman Malhar of the same block had died of hunger. Investigations revealed that none of the families of the locality – Malhar Toli of Kundariya Basti – have a ration card. When the fact-finding team visited Malhar Toli on 26 July, it learnt that no household in the locality had received a ration card or its foodgrain entitlement under the National Food Security Act.
Chitaman Malhar’s death was preceded by a spate of 11 starvation deaths in Jharkhand, all within a span of nine months. In at least seven of these deaths, aadhaar-related failures clearly contributed to starvation. The team, in its report, noted that the government has taken no note of the demand for a universal Public Distribution System with inclusion of nutritious items such as pulses and edible oil and the delinking of welfare programmes with Aadhaar.
---
With Basant Hetamsariya and Siraj Dutta, Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand. Contact: rtfcjharkhand@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Girl child education: 20 major states 'score' better than Gujarat, says GoI report

By Rajiv Shah
A Government of India report, released last month, has suggested that “model” Gujarat has failed to make any progress vis-à-vis other states in ensuring that girls continue to remain enrolled after they leave primary schools. The report finds that, in the age group 14-17, Gujarat’s 71% girls are enrolled at the secondary and higher secondary level, which is worse than 20 out of 22 major states for which data have been made available.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad "declared support" to two-nation theory in 1937, followed by Jinnah three years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Hindutva founders, not Congress, were actual 'proponents' of two-nation theory

By Shamsul Islam*
No other organization, in the present world, can beat Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in double-speak. In fact, what George Orwell termed as "doublespeak" would be an understatement in the case of RSS. The latest proof of this nasty case was provided by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, de facto Prime Minister and senior RSS leader in the Lok Sabha (akin to the House of Commons in England) on December 9, 2019.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Ships recycling Bill 'allows' India to be turned into a landfill for foreign hazardous waste

Counterview Desk
In a letter to M Venkaiah Naidu, chairman, Rajya Sabha, senior activist Gopal Krishna of the Toxics Watch Alliance has said that the Recycling of Ships Bill, 2019 should be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change to "safeguard country’s maritime environment from harmful and hazardous wastes and materials".

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Post-Balakot, danger that events might spiral out of control is 'greater, not less'

By Tapan Bose*
The fear of war in South Asia is increasing. Tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan after the Indian defence minister's announcement in August this year that India may revoke its current commitment to only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a nuclear attack, known as ‘no first use’. According to some experts who are watching the situation the risk of a conflict between the two countries has never been greater since they both tested nuclear weapons in 1998.

80 RTI activists killed since 2014, yet Modi govt 'refuses' to implement whistleblowers Act

By Our Representative
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over power in 2014 at the Centre, more than 80 have been killed “in their quest for information and accountability” through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a public hearing in Delhi has been told. Senior politicians from opposition parties, including Congress and Left, heard people express their anguish over the manner in which the government was treating the RTI Act, even as refusing to operationalise the Whistleblower Protection Act, passed in 2014.