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

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Muted profit margins, moderate increase in costs and sales: IIM-A survey of 1000 cos

By Our Representative  The Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad’s (IIM-A's) latest Business Inflation Expectations Survey (BIES) has said that the cost perceptions data obtained from India’s business executives suggests that there is “mild increase in cost pressures”.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Govt putting India's professionals, skilled, unskilled labour 'at mercy of' big business

By Thomas Franco, Dinesh Abrol*  As it is impossible to refute the report of the International Labour Organisation, Chief Economic Advisor Anantha Nageswaran recently said that the government cannot solve all social, economic problems like unemployment and social security. He blamed the youth for not acquiring enough skills to get employment. Then can’t the people ask, ‘Why do we have a government? Is it not the government’s responsibility to provide adequate employment to its citizens?’

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

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. 

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.