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

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

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.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.

Top Catholic group wants quota for Dalit Christians, foreign fund licenses revived

By Our Representative
Reiterating its long-pending demand to give "scheduled rights for Dalit Christians”, the All-India Catholic Union (AICU) has regretted that while converts to Sikhism and Buddhism from the former untouchable, or Dalit communities, have been included in the scheduled caste (SC) category, Christians from the identical communities have been “kept out.”