Jharkhand Food Minister Saryu Rai on Saturday directed the Latehar administration to exhume the body of a 65-year-old man for postmortem following allegations that he starved to death a day before, PTI reported.
Ramachandra Munda’s family on Friday alleged that they had not received ration for three months and Munda had not eaten anything for three days, ANI reported. The family claimed that the electronic machine used for biometric-based ration delivery was not working.
Rai said he has taken a serious note of the allegation and directed the Latehar administration to follow strict protocol while investigating the case. “If the reports are true and anybody is found guilty, he or she will be punished as per norms,” the minister said.
Rai said the inquiry would cover all aspects in the case, including the allegation that Munda did not receive ration for two months. The minister also appealed to Opposition parties to refrain from politicising the matter.
The sub-divisional magistrate of Mahuadand block in the district, Sudhir Kumar Das, said Munda did not die of starvation and that his family received all the facilities they were entitled to. Das said the local ration dealer died three months ago and his wife had taken charge of the public distribution system in the village.
“The administration had issued instructions to maintain offline records for distribution of ration following reports that poor internet connectivity is hampering transactions over point-of-sale machines,” Das said. “Munda and his family were given Rs 2,000 and 50 kg rice.”
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) General Secretary Bandhu Tirkey, who met Munda’s family on Saturday, expressed hope that the government will take necessary action. “The food minister takes such issues seriously,” Tirkey said. “I expect he will take action soon.”
Right to Food activists had alleged that glitches in the Aadhaar-based Public Distribution System had led to at least seven starvation deaths in the state by March 2018.