Activists say 65-yr-old died due to starvation
Activists said a 65-year-old man died of starvation in Jharkhand’s Latehar district on Thursday after his family did not get subsidised ration under the Public Distribution System (PDS) for three months, a charge the district administration denied.
Officials ruled out hunger as the cause of Ramcharan Munda’s death and said he died of heat stroke.
But they confirmed that the residents of Lurgumi Kala village had not received subsidised ration for three months as the only point of sale (PoS) machine in the area was not working due to connectivity issues.
In 2016, Jharkhand adopted a “paperless” Public Distribution System, under which a person has to get biometric authentication done at a point of sale machine before they can get subsidised ration.
According to activist Mithilesh Kumar, Munda’s family members said they had not eaten for days.
“[Munda’s] family has told us that there was no food grain in the house and Munda had not eaten for at least three days. This is the 21st hunger death in Jharkhand in the past two years.”
In a reply to the Parliament last year, the then minister of state (MoS) for consumer affairs, food and public distribution, CR Chaudhary, had rejected reports of starvation deaths, stating that “no state government/Union Territory administration has reported any incident of death due to starvation in the country”. Latehar deputy commissioner Rajiw Kumar ordered an inquiry into Munda’s death and ordered an offline distribution of ration in the village.
Following the direction, a team of officials led by Mahuadand sub-divisional officer (SDO) Sudhir Kumar Das distributed ration for two months among villagers on Friday.
“[Munda’s] death was not by hunger as we found food grains in [his] house. His wife was found to be in a normal physical condition during a medical examination condition,“ Das said.
Stating that Munda might not have died of hunger, block development officer (BDO) Priti Kisku said: “The deceased was being treated for a heat stroke and it is likely that he died because of it.”