Jharkand”s Rickshaw Puller Dies of Hunger: Jharia

“…his death occurred due to hunger and disease”

A rickshaw-puller reportedly died of hunger at his house in Jharia lastFriday evening. His wife claimed that he had not eaten anything for the past two days. However the district administration rubbished the allegation arguing that 45-year-old Baijnath Ravidas, a resident of Bhalgora Tarabank in the coal mines rich district, was suffering from a disease.

It was a fact finding team of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that visited the village on October 20 and met the family members of the deceased; who is survived by three sons — Ravi (20), Suraj (14), Neeraj (10) — and two daughters Suman (16) and Sulekha (8). When the team (comprising Kashinath Chatterjee, Gyan Ranjan Sinha, former minister Dr Saba Ahmed, CPM District secretary Suresh Gupta Ramakrishnan and others) reached the house of the deceased, officials of the district and block administrations in “20 vehicles were present at the spot along with 40 policemen”. It was after the team “interacted with the villagers” and concluded that that his death occurred due to hunger and disease both”. “The situation of others in the family is also quite bad,” said the fact finding team in its reports. “He (the deceased) could not have his ration card made even after multiple attempts,” alleges the report.

The whole area is made of huts and most people here work in the unorganised sector. “Seventy percent of the families here do not have ration card. Many of them had applied for ration card multiple times a year back but did not get it. The families who have ration cards, got them made through agents who charged commission for doing the needful,” alleged the report. According to the fact finding team, this area has large number of Dalit and extremely poor families. Ration through PDS will be lifeline for these families. “During socio-economic & caste census, many families were omitted from PDS. Many deserving families have been deprived of food in the name of Aadhaar or ration card,” alleged the report.

The team has demanded that all the people in the area should be provided ration. They further demanded the government to come out with a white paper on how many people have been deprived of ration in the name of Aadhar and also specify what procedures are adopted for this; and what notifications has been given on this.

Action has been demanded against the officials who were responsible. They expressed hope that all orders of the Supreme Court regarding right to food, and hunger deaths will be followed
“Similar mishappenings have occurred in Garaw, Deoghar and Dhanbad,” alleged the report.

Local units of BGVS are involved in the agitation. “Gyan Vigyan Samithi Jharkhand, along with other organizations will continue to fight for justice on the issue,” said the report.
Last month, an 11-year-old girl died in Jharkhand’s Simdega district because of starvation, months after her family’s ration card was cancelled because it was not linked to their Aadhaar number. With no mid-day meals available in school during her Durga Puja holidays, Santoshi Kumari had gone with barely any food for nearly eight days before she died



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