Jharkhand: 18 People Died Of ‘Starvation’, State Govt Denies Responsibility
The Logical Indian Crew Jharkhand
January 7th, 2019 / 12:11 PM
Image Credits: Indian Express
On December 26, the Jharkhand government submitted a report to the rural development ministry over the death of 18 people allegedly due to starvation in the state since September 2017. However, in its release, it has denied that hunger or poverty is responsible for these deaths.
The recent report of the Jharkhand government addressed to MNREGA director, acknowledged the death of the people, but nevertheless claimed that the deaths were not related to hunger or the government’s rural employment scheme- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MNERGA). The report submitted by the state is a response to a letter sent by the rural development ministry to Jharkhand government seeking information about the “starvation deaths”.
While it may be hard for many of us to believe that in the 21st century India, people are still dying of starvation. There have been several reports in the past that claims that many people in the state have lost their lives due to starvation or extreme destitution conditions.
Denial and death
In 2016, the 40-year old, Indradeo Mali of Hazaribagh lost his life allegedly due to starvation. Independent reports have noted that no food was cooked in his house for three days preceding his death and his family had not received ration for two months before his death.
Death of 11-year old Santoshi Kumari of Simdega district on September 28, 2017, was also because of hunger. Her family too had not received ration for five months as Ration Card was not allegedly linked to the Aadhaar, reported The Hindu. Her mother Koyili Devi, a wage labourer had not received MNREGA work as the scheme was not implemented in their village at that time. In another case, Savitri Devi a widow from Giridh died in June 2018. She did not even have a ration card although she had applied for one long back. Her widow pension sanctioned in 2014 was credited in April 2018. She had a job card but had not got any work since 2016. The government report has quietly escaped these issues in its report, as reported by The Wire.
As per The Wire, the state has a special pension scheme for Particularly for Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG), but members belonging to these groups have also died of “starvation” in the past.
The 50-year-old Chintaman Malhar of Ramgarh district had died in June 2018, as he did not have a Ration card and a Particularly for Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) pension or a job card.
Similarly, 39-year-old Rajendra Birhor from the same district died of hunger in July 2018. He was not also getting PVTG pension or MNREGA work. His family did not even have a ration card.
Ignored and left to die
If we look into these examples, it seems like that the government is trying to deflect criticism over glaring violations of socio-economic rights of the deceased. While talking to The Wire, activist Siraj Dutta said that the collapse of MNREGA, which could have provided work opportunities and hence food to the to the deceased in these areas had been entirely ignored in the report. He added that each case ends with the same sentence claiming the cause of death is not related to MNREGA.
When a question was asked about starvation deaths to C.R. Chaudhary, Union Minister of state for food and civil supplies on December 18, last year, he said that he had no information about any such incident. On December 25, his senior in the ministry, Ram Vilas Paswan had also asked all states to provide details of such deaths, reports The Wire.
District administration and other authorities have said that most of these deaths happened because of malnutrition, neglect or tuberculosis. However, the data suggests that the government has failed to provide food security to the people in its state. National Family Health Survey shows that the number of underweight children in rural Jharkhand is almost 14% higher than the national average.
Written by : Uday Bhanu (Intern)
Edited by : Bharat Nayak