A 58-year-old woman allegedly died of starvation at a village under Dumri Block of Giridih district in Jharkhand. District officials said the woman’s family did not have a ration card but are probing whether a formal application for the same had been submitted.
According to officials, Savitri Devi, a resident of Mangargaddi village in Dumri, died on Saturday. However, they were only informed about the death after her younger son, Hulas Mahato, reached home on Sunday. An investigation is underway to probe Devi’s death, they said.
Executive Magistrate and Dumri Block Development Officer (in-charge) Rahul Dev said, “We reached her home on Sunday afternoon. The administration was not informed about it earlier. Prima facie, there was no food in the house. The family did not have ration card. We are probing whether an application was submitted and, if so, whether it was properly processed.”
Officials are also probing as to why the woman, or any other member of her family, was reportedly not getting any other government benefits.
Ram Prasad Mahato, mukhiya (village headman) of Chainpur Panchayat, under which Mangargaddi falls, said, “Savitri’s elder daughter-in-law had come to me about two months ago for verification of her ration card application. I had verified it. But I don’t know whether she submitted it in the block office or not.”
Mahato claimed that his mother has not been receiving pension in the last three years despite being selected under a scheme for widows in 2014. He said that after his father’s death in 2010, the little produce they got from a small family-owned farm barely lasted for two-to-three months. And the partly stipend he was earning through an apprenticeship program in Uttar Pradesh was also not sufficient to feed the family, he added.
“My elder brother was not getting salary regularly, while I was getting paid stipend that was too little. The last I talked, the food grain had been managed from a self-help group in the village. But it too had finished-off and for nearly three days, no food was cooked in the house,” he told The Indian Express.
Mahato said his elder brother’s wife, her three children, his wife and their daughter lived together with his mother.
Following Devi’s death, a local dealer has arranged about 50 kg of rice for the family of eight, he said. The family has requested the administration to not send the body for postmortem but cremate it.
A women’s self-help group also provided three kgs of rice for the family before Devi died.
Sunita Devi, one of the core group members of Maa Kali Swayam Sahayata Samooh (Maa Kali Self-Help Group), said, “Around eight days ago, Savitri’s elder daughter-in-law had called me asking if we could be of some help, as there was no food grain in the house. We managed to provide her three kgs at that time. We were again supposed to meet on Tuesday, this week, and could have arranged for more. But, in the meantime, Savitri died. With a family of seven to feed that amount was obviously not enough.”
Meanwhile, Food and Supplies Minister Saryu Roy has directed the Deputy Commissioner for a detailed report by a senior official.