At least 56 died due to hunger since 2015: Report

At least 56 died due to hunger since 2015: Report

At least 56 people have died due to hunger in the country since 2015, according to a count by a group of activists and academicians who says half of them were due to victims not able to get ration as they do not have Aadhaar.

Of this, the 'Hunger Deaths in 2015-18' report said, 42 happened in 2017 and this year so far, which showed the "precarious living conditions of the Indian poor".

Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand with 16 each cases have the maximum number of starvation deaths in the country since 2015 while Odisha had 10 such cases.

Karnataka also figures in the list with three deaths -- of three Dalit brothers Narayan (55), Subbu (52) and Venkatrama (46) on July 2, July 8 and July 13 last year respectively. They were reportedly denied ration for six months preceding their death as their ration card was deleted because it was "not linked" with Aadhaar.

The report was prepared by development economist Reetika Khera and activist Siraj Dutta with contributions from Swati Narayan as well as the Right to Food Campaign in Odisha, Jharkhand and Delhi.

It comes on the occasion of the first death anniversary of 11-year-old Santoshi Kumari, who breathed her last on September 28 last year in Jharkhand.

"She died one year ago begging her mother for rice as she slipped into unconsciousness. It was later learnt that her family had lost their ration card because it had not been linked with Aadhaar (in mid-2017, the Jharkhand government mass-cancelled Aadhaar-less rations cards)," the report said.

The report said it was a "telling reminder of the precarious living conditions of the Indian poor. Many of them depend critically on social security pensions and the public distribution system (PDS) for their survival. Denial of PDS rations or pensions accounts for most of the hunger deaths. Most of the victims are Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims."

Since 2017, there were at least 25 hunger deaths attributed to victims losing out on ration due to Aadhaar. "Common reasons include losing one’s ration card or pension for lack of Aadhaar linking, and failure of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA), which is compulsory – for practical purposes – in several states," it said.

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