The Jharkhand government is setting up a panel to define “hunger deaths”, The Times of India reported on Tuesday.
The government’s move comes after the state recorded a series of deaths allegedly due to starvation in 2017 and in January. While activists have claimed the deaths were caused by starvation, district authorities have maintained that some of them died because of illnesses.
Saryu Rai, the Jharkhand minister for food, civil supplies, public distribution and consumer affairs, on Monday ordered the committee to be formed. “The committee will create a protocol that will clearly define hunger deaths in Jharkhand,” a statement from Rai’s office said, according to The Times of India. State Food Director Sunil Kumar Sinha will head the panel.
Right to Food activists in Jharkhand have alleged that glitches in the Aadhaar-based Public Distribution System led to at least seven starvation deaths in the state since 11-year-old Santoshi Kumari died crying for rice in Simdega district in September 2017.
In December, Premani Kunwar, a 65-year-old widow, allegedly starved to death, activists said. On January 2, 67-year-old Etwariya Devi died of hunger in Garhwa district, and on January 23, activists reported another starvation death they suspect was linked to the glitches – Lukhi Murmu, a 30-year-old woman from Dhawadangal village in Pakur district, died of malnutrition and exhaustion.