Hunger whiff in death

Ranchi: An elderly woman, who was allegedly denied ration for three months because of Aadhaar data mismatch, starved to death on December 25, a report released by the Right to Food Campaign said on Tuesday.

Etwaria Devi (67), a resident of Sonpurwa village in Majhiaon block of Garhwa, 225km from the state capital, was purportedly the fifth victim of hungerin the state last year although the glaring cause of these deaths have never been officially confirmed.

According to the report, Etwaria was not given food grains by the local PDS dealer since October 2017 and was told her thumb impression did not match her Aadhaar biometric data, among other things.

Members Jahur Ansari, Siraj Dutta and Mithilesh Kumar of the fact-finding team said official records available online suggested that PDS ration quota for October to December was released to the said dealer, Chandradeo Sharma.

But, the elderly woman was denied food grains because of thumb impression mismatch in October; in November, she was told that ration supply hadn't arrived; and in December, the dealer pleaded that his PoS machine (used to match fingerprints) was not working, they said.

"Most PDS dealers never give bona fide beneficiaries their rightful ration. So was the case with Etwaria Devi. We fail to understand how the Aadhaar seeding has helped the poor and how it has curbed corruption," said Dutta.

The report further mentions that Etwaria was not getting her old-age pension of Rs 600 for two months because of "link failure" and she died in utter penury.

"The victim had last visited the community service centre on December 8 to collect her pension, but her thumb impression could not be authenticated because of link failure," Dutta added.

Officiating BDO of Majhiaon Kamal Kishore Singh ruled out starvation death, insisting that meals were cooked in Etwaria's home every day and she had food grains in stock. Singh also said that the woman had more than Rs 1,200 in her bank account when she died.

"It is, however, true that she hadn't collected her December ration of 25kg rice. But, her pension account is up-to-date," Singh added.


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