Woman whose daughter died of starvation attacked for ‘defaming’ village: report

The mother of an 11-year-old girl, who allegedly died due to starvation last month because the family’s Aadhaar and ration cards weren’t linked, was on Saturday attacked for ‘defaming’ her village in Jharkhand state.

Koili Devi apparently travelled eight kilometers from her village Karimati in the far-flung Simdega district to seek shelter at the home of an activist, Taramani Sahu, in Patiamba village in Jaldega block on Saturday morning, Hindustan Times reported.

“I was in Ranchi when my family called me to say Koili Devi had arrived at my home after her family was attacked for defaming the village,” Sahu told Hindustan Times(HT).

“Koili Devi’s daughter, Santoshi Kumari, died on September 28 after allegedly starving for four days because her family was struck off the government welfare rolls for not linking their ration card with Aadhaar. The family had not received any ration since February after their ration card was allegedly cancelled due to a failure in Aadhaar seeding, but subsisted on doles and the midday meal Santoshi would get at her school,” according to an HT report.

The allegations surfaced this week and sparked outrage, forcing the government to order a probe. The local administration has denied that starvation killed Santoshi and claimed that she was suffering from Malaria. State food minister Saryu Roy has also said that Aadhaar cards weren’t necessary to get rations.

Simdega deputy commissioner Manjunath Bhajantri confirmed that he had received complaints that Koili Devi was attacked and asked the police to provide security to her family.

“Although villagers have said that no such incident occurred in the village, we are providing necessary security to the family,” Bhajantri told HT. Koili Devi returned to the village after police protection was provided. She alleged the local ration dealer, whose licence was cancelled after the controversy surfaced, orchestrated the attack along with some other villagers, said activists.

Koili Devi also disputed the district administration’s report that fixed malaria as the cause of Santoshi’s death, saying she never gave her thumb impression on the document, as claimed by the three-member probe team.

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