An 11-year-old Indian girl was starved to death allegedly because her family did not receive a food rationing card in the Public Distribution System (PDS) in the Jharkhand district of India.
Activists alleged that certain PDS outlets in the Simdega district refused to give rations to the family, since their ration cards were cancelled. Eleven-year-old Santoshi Kumari allegedly died of starvation after going without food for eight days.
In an exclusive report, Scroll found out that in Jharkand's Karimati village, a local dealer had been refusing to give ration to the Kumari family, saying that their ration card was not linked to Aadhaar.
Aadhaar means ' foundation' and is a 12 digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data.
The family did not have Aadhaar cards. Non-profit organisations Right to Food Campaign and NREGA Watch discovered that the outlet had taken off the name of Koyli Devi, the child's mother, along with those of 10 other families as their cards were not linked. The activists placed a request for a new card explaining the circumstances, but the card only arrived after Santoshi's death on September 28.
In February this year, it became mandatory to have Aadhaar numbers to access subsidised ration under distribution system. The victim's mother said that since school was shut for Durga Puja holidays, Satoshi didn't have access to the midday meals she usually had. The girl's father is not sound of mind and her mother and sister makes no more than 80-90 rupees (R16.50 - R18.56) a day cutting grass for others, reports Scroll.
Government officials, however, have argued that Santoshi died of malaria, not starvation.
Not just subsidised ration, the February 28 notification from government also made it mandatory for children to have Aadhaar cards for access to midday meals in government schools. In August this year, Hindustan Times reported that only 42% children in the state have enrolled for Aadhaar. It also said that according to a notification from the Union ministry, the deadline for enrolling into Aadhaar was 31 August, 2017. Hindustan Times reported that 37 lakh students in 49,000 government schools in the state ran the risk of being denied midday meals if they did not get enrolled under the Aadhaar scheme within the stipulated deadline.