Lack of ration card apparently led to the death of a 58-year-old woman in Giridih district in Jharkhand, said district officials. They are now investigating if Savitri Devi’s family had submitted a formal application to obtain the ration card.

Devi died on June 2 but the officials got to know about it a day later when her younger son Hulas Mahato reached home. 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,” IE reported.

The district officials are also probing why the woman and her family were not receiving any other governmental benefits.

“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,” said Ram Prasad Mahato, mukhiya (village headman) of Chainpur Panchayat, which comprises Mangargaddi.

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Mahato revealed that his mother also did not receive the pension for the last three years even though she fell under a scheme for widows in 2014. He said that since his father died in 2010, their major source of sustenance is a little family-owned farm whose produce kept the family going for two-three months. Other than that, he earned a small stipend from an apprenticeship program in Uttar Pradesh, which was not sufficient to feed the family.

“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 3 kg at that time. We again had to meet on Tuesday, this week, and could have arranged for more”

“My elder brother did not get regular salary, while my stipend was too little. The last I talked, a self-help group in the village had managed to give food grain. But it too had finished-off and for nearly three days, they did not have any food to cook in the house,” he told The Indian Express.

Devi lived with Mahato’s wife and their daughter and his elder brother’s wife and their three children.

After the incident, the local dealer sent 50kg of rice for the rest of the family. And while the official took the body for post-mortem, the family has asked them not do it but cremate the body.

Before Devi’s death, a women’s SHG had supplied the family with three kgs of rice. “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 again had to meet on Tuesday, this week, and could have arranged for more. But, in the meantime, Savitri died. A family of seven can not feed on that amount,” said Sunita Devi, one of the core group members of Maa Kali Swayam Sahayata Samooh (Maa Kali Self-Help Group).

This incident has also led the Food and Supplies Minister Saryu Roy to act on it. He has instructed the Deputy Commissioner for a detailed report by a senior official.

Picture credit- Asianet Newsable

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