Skip to main content

Two more "aadhaar-linked" Jharkhand deaths: 17 die of starvation since Sept 2017

Kaleshwar's sons Santosh and Mantosh
Counterview Desk
A fact-finding team of the Right to Feed Campaign, pointing towards the death of two more persons due to starvation in Jharkhand, has said that this has happened because of the absence of aadhaar, leading to “persistent lack of food at home and unavailability of any means of earning.” It has disputed the state government claims that these deaths are due to reasons other than starvation, adding, the authorities have “done nothing” to reduce the alarming state of food insecurity in the state.
In a note based on the fact-finding team’s spot investigation, the well-known civil rights organization has said, two deaths have taken the total number of starvation deaths in Jharkhand to 17 since September 2017. This includes 8 Adivasis, 4 Dalits and 5 of backward communities. “Contrary to government’s claims, the immediate causes of these deaths include denial of foodgrains due to absence of a ration card, cancellation of ration cards not linked with Aadhaar, or Aadhaar-based biometric authentication failures”, it adds.

Text of the note:

At least two more persons died of starvation in Jharkhand in the last 25 days. This takes the total number of hunger deaths in the state to 17, since September 2017. The most recent victim is 45-year old Kaleshwar Soren who died of hunger and destitution on 11 November in Mahuatanr village of Jama block of Dumka district. A fact finding team of the Right to Food Campaign, Jharkhand found that the ration card of Kaleshwar’s family was cancelled as it was not linked with Aadhaar.
Kaleshwar lived in extreme deprivation, in a dilapidated kutcha house with no possessions except a wooden cot. Lack of adequate food and nutrition was routine for the family. Kaleshwar could barely manage to survive on the food given by neighbours. He had grown weak over the last couple of years and had stopped working. He had to mortgage the family’s agricultural land and sell off his pair of oxen to survive.
Owing to persistent lack of food at home and unavailability of any means of earning, all his five children never went to school and had to seek work since early age. Two older sons, who work as daily wagers in Rajasthan, were not allowed by the contractor to go back home even once in the last two years. They could not even visit after their father’s death.
Ration card dealer, Mahuatanr
The family’s priority ration card was cancelled in 2016 as it was not linked with Aadhaar of the family members. Since then, the family did not receive grains under the Public Distribution System (PDS). According to the ration dealer, after the cancellation of the ration card, when Kaleshwar was asked to submit his Aadhaar to get back on the ration list, he could not submit it as he had misplaced it. None of his children has an Aadhaar number.
The Mukhiya of the Gram Panchayat claimed to have given some grain to Kaleshwar from the Khadyan Kosh (grain bank) of Rs. 10000 established to support vulnerable families. Even though fact-finding team could not verify the claim, it shows how ineffective the government’s “solution” is.
Along with Kaleshwar, ration cards of 27 families of the same village were also cancelled in 2016. Twenty-six households were reinstated on the ration list a year after their card was cancelled and after they submitted their Aadhaar and bank account details. Jian Kisku of the same village, whose ration card was also cancelled in 2016, is yet to get back on the ration list as neither he nor his wife has Aadhaar.
Kaleshwar’s death comes close on the heels of the deaths of Moti Yadav of Margomunda block (Deoghar) on 1 November and Seeta Devi of Basia block (Gumla) on 25 October. Moti Yadav, visually impaired, died of destitution. He did not get disability pension despite applying for it. 75 year-old Seeta Devi, who lived alone, starved to death as she did not have any food or cash at home before her death.
Even though she had a ration card, due to illness, she could not go to the ration shop in October to authenticate her identity. She was also denied old age pension as her bank account was not linked with Aadhaar.
The 17 starvation deaths, since September 2017, include 8 Adivasis, 4 Dalits and 5 of backward communities. Contrary to government’s claims, the immediate causes of these deaths include denial of foodgrains due to absence of a ration card, cancellation of ration cards not linked with Aadhaar, or Aadhaar-based biometric authentication failures.
Denial of social security pensions and absence of work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act further contribute to the destitution of the starvation victims and their families. At least seven victims were eligible to social security pension, but were either not issued a pension or did not receive their pension due to administrative lapses or Aadhaar-related issues. Not to mention the children of these families, with poor education, negligible access to health services and employment, are staring at a bleak future.
The deaths also highlight the inadequate coverage of the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY). Most of these families, despite living in acute poverty, did not have a AAY ration card. To address the issue of hunger in the state, the Right to Food Campaign has been repeatedly demanding
  1. universalization of PDS in rural areas to reduce exclusion errors; 
  2. inclusion of pulses and edible oil in PDS; 
  3. doing away with the mandatory requirement of Aadhaar in welfare programmes; 
  4. universalization of social security pensions; and 
  5. strict action against government officials whose lapses have caused these deaths. 
But the state government continues to deny starvation as the cause of these deaths and has done nothing to reduce the alarming state of food insecurity in Jharkhand. 
It is worth noting that at least five persons have died of hunger since the government’s announcement of setting up Khadyan Kosh at the Gram Panchayat level to support vulnerable households. Such token initiatives fail to ensure universal access to food security as a matter of right and expose the government’s lack of commitment for right to food of the people.
---
Click HERE and HERE for video testimonies

Comments

Anonymous said…
A 45 year old man, don't do any work, but have five children whom he never sent to school even. Lost his own document and did not tried to get it back. Now it is responsibility of others (country) to feed him. What a joke

TRENDING

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.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara 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".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen