Woman dies of starvation after husband denied subsidised ration over Aadhaar

Sakina’s husband Mohammad Ishaq said despite the family pleading with the ration shop owner, he refused to give them ration without biometric authentication at the outlet

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Ashutosh Sharma

While Aadhaar card has been made mandatory for the poor to avail their monthly quota of subsidised ration under public distribution system, the government has a different set of rules for any person buying jewellery or precious stones above ₹50,000, for which PAN and Aadhaar card details are not required.

After the starvation death of an 11-year-old girl in Jharkhand, the inhuman Central government policy has claimed yet another life in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly. The deceased, Sakina, a 50-year-old woman, was paralysed for the past few days. She was marked as head of the family in the ration card.

Sakina's husband Mohammad Ishaq said despite several pleadings by the family, the ration shop owner refused to give them ration without biometric authentication at his outlet.

But the Yogi Adityanath government has claimed that the woman died of illness and not starvation. Ram Akshay, the SDM of Meerganj has refuted the allegations. “The deceased had ₹4,572 in her bank account, so the claim of abject poverty does not stick. Moreover, her neighbours said she had not been keeping well for the past few days,” he said.

The aggrieved family, however, has alleged they were denied ration under the Public Distribution System for this month as Sakina—who was registered as family head in the ration card—was not in a position to be taken to the shop. Earlier, the family would take her to the shop on a rickshaw despite poor health.

“My wife died because of hunger. She was very ill. We used to take her there in a rickshaw. This time she was very ill. We begged the Kotedar (ration shop owner), but he said he would not give anything without biometrics,” Ishaq told the electronic media.

Under the Central government-sponsored Antyodaya scheme for the poorest, a family is entitled to 35 kg of subsidised wheat, rice and sugar every month. Aadhaar cards were linked to ration cards to check pilferage in the public distribution system. But due to mandatory biometric authentication at the ration outlets, many ailing, infirm and old people are finding it almost impossible to procure subsidised ration.

Expressing dismay over the incident, former Chief Minister and national president of the Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav, has said that the death of the poor woman was a “blot on democracy”. In a tweet he said that if the woman was ill and could not go to the ration shop for her biometric verification to pick up food grains, there should have been a system in place to meet such a situation.

Shocked over the starvation death of Sakina, many twitter users have questioned the government policy, asserting that even if an ill-executed policy causes the death of a single person, it needs to be questioned and scrapped.

“There should be a law to remove MLA and MP of the constituency in which there is even a single death due to starvation. Its a shame to all,” wrote Vikaas Guptha on twitter.

“This is diabolical! One starvation death after another. India in 2017. Is this the vikas and good governance we were promised?” Anjali Bhardwaj, a social activist wrote on twitter.

This is second case of starvation death within one month after an 11-year-old tribal girl died in Jharkhand’s Simdega district asking for rice. She allegedly died after her family was denied ration as their ration and Aadhaar cards were not linked.

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