Starvation Deaths

October 26, 2017

1. Starvation death in District Simdega of Jharkhand

Eleven-year-old Santoshi Kumari died asking for rice on September 28, eight months after her family stopped getting food rations from the local ration shop because their ration card was not linked to their Aadhaar..

The child’s death in Jharkhand’s Simdega district has elicited official responses that verge on denial. Jharkhand’s food and civil supplies minister claimed to have nothing to do with an order passed by his own government that led to 11 lakh ration cards being cancelled because the cardholders had not furnished their Aadhaar numbers. The CEO of UIDAI, Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that the Aadhaar Act made it clear that no one will be denied food rations if they did not possess an Aadhaar number.

But this is exactly what is happening. Countless reports by activists and journalists, including’s Identity Project series, have documented the disruption in PDS on account of Aadhaar. Across states, people are struggling to authenticate themselves by scanning their fingerprints each time they go to the ration shop. In many cases, their fingerprints are too worn out to register on the fingerprint scanning machines. Often, the internet connection fails. The result is that they are unable to access the foodgrains they are legally entitled to under the National Food Security Act 2013.

In Jharkhand, the government’s website showed at least 10% of families were unable to buy their food rations, as Jean Drèze, an economist who is part of the Right to Food campaign, pointed out. “That may not seem like a very large number, but in absolute terms, it translates into something like 2.5 million people in Jharkhand being deprived of their food rations,” he said.

The Jharkhand Right Food Campaign has written a letter to Mr. Vinay Chaubey, Secretary, Food and Civic Supply Department, Government of Jharkhand regarding the starvation death. A team from the campaign conducted a fact finding of the death. Click here to see the fact report.

Links to media reports of the incident are given below:

Scroll - Denied food because she did not have Aadhaar-linked ration card, Jharkhand girl dies of starvation
Hindustan Times - Jharkhand girl’s ‘starvation death’: Mother attacked for ‘defaming village’
Indian Express - After starvation death case: Jharkhand minister scraps top state official’s order on Aadhaar-PDS link
Scroll: Chronicle of a starvation death foretold: Why it is time to abandon Aadhaar in the ration shop

Newswing - दे नी आयो भात...दे नी आयो भात...बुदबुदाते हुए भूख से मर गई 11 साल की संतोषी - Aadhaar Card Not Mandatory For Benefits of Welfare Schemes, Says UIDAI Chief Ajay Bhushan Pandey, No Aadhaar Needed For Ration Under PDS: UIDAI
Times of India - Jharkhand 'starvation' death: Security to girl's mother after she alleges abuse by villagers

Scroll - No Aadhaar, no food rations: 11 stories that show the Jharkhand child death was no aberration, Aadhaar is depriving the most vulnerable people of their grain entitlements.

A 40-year-old rickshaw driver died on October 23, 2017 in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand. The family has alleged that the rickshaw puller was struggling to make a ration card for the last three years.

An another 62-year-old man died of hunger on Monday in Jharkhand’s Deoghar district after the biometric reader at the PDS shop couldn’t read his thumb impression and he was refused ration, his family alleged, a charge denied by the government.

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