Jharkhand reported around 18 cases of alleged starvation deaths between December 2016 and November 2018. However, subsequent investigations done by the state government didn’t find any evidence of starvation and showed that most deaths occurred because of medical conditions, including age. This probe has infuriated civil society activists. The activists disagreed with the state investigations and questioned the findings on grounds that all evidences weren’t considered before arriving at the conclusion. Recently, the state sent a report to the Centre on the deaths, looking at various aspects of each of the incidents. However, the civil society activists said the report is riddled with inconsistencies and overlooks crucial facts as to whether a family whose member died received grains through ration in the months preceding the death.
The Centre had sought details as to whether lack of jobs under MGNREGA was one of the reasons for the starvation deaths. The report says that MGNREGA wasn’t the reason for the deaths. But it did not go into details such as whether the family had job cards and the last time the family got a job under MGNREGA, among others.
The report mentions that the family members of those who died had priority household cards for ration in several cases. But, it does not say whether the person received ration till the time of his or her death.
That apart, activists said that in case of six of the 17 alleged starvation death cases, the report mentions about food distributed through ration shops stopping months before the deaths. This does not explain whether the victims got food till the last day.
The state, in its report, also said that in most cases, at least one member in the family of the deceased was employed either within the state or outside.