Of 42 'Hunger-Related' Deaths Since 2017, 25 'Linked to Aadhaar Issues'

To mark one year since the death of 11-year-old Santoshi Kumari in Jharkhand, activists have released a list of hunger-related deaths in India since 2015.

New Delhi: A year after the ‘starvation’ death of an 11-year-old girl, Santoshi Kumari, in Jharkhand’s Simdega district, activists have compiled a list of 56 alleged hunger-related deaths since 2015 across the country, of which 42 were in 2017 and 2018.

Kumari’s death led to a spate of similar allegations coming to the fore, with several activists alleging that linking the public distribution system to Aadhaar had led to confusion and exclusions across states, leading to people like Kumari’s family not being able to access the ration owed to them. These allegation have continued and various state government have been pulled up for not being able to provide basic amenities to those who need them most.

The list has been compiled by Reetika Khera and Siraj Dutta, with contributions from Swati Narayan and the Right to Food Campaign in Odisha, Jharkhand and Delhi, based on media reports. According to them, a large majority of the deaths recorded in 2017 and 2018 are because of the Aadhaar system, which is ensuring that even some people who were able to access the public distribution before are no longer able to do so.

  Number of reported hunger deaths Aadhaar-related deaths Aadhaar in PDS/pension?
2015 7 0 No
2016 7 2 Some states
2017 14 11 Yes
2018 28 14 Yes

In a statement releasing the data, Khera and Dutta have said,

In a healthy democracy, hunger deaths would make headlines and become a matter of debate and action. Some of the cases reported here did receive some attention, but even those did not lead to the sort of sustained pressure that would force the government to do what it takes to prevent hunger deaths. Most of them barely made it to the “news ticker” of fast-paced breaking news. And despite growing evidence of the counter-productive role of Aadhaar-based biometric authentication in the PDS, the central government persists in its determination to make it compulsory across the country.

The full table they have compiled is reproduced below.

Name & Age Block & District Date of death Details Sources
Shiv Kumar Majhi, 4 yrs (m) Surguja, Chhattisgarh Late May 2015 Adivasi?, Family PDS ration card was cancelled; father worked as casual labourer, the family did not have a ration card; possibly PDS card was cancelled Indian Express
Jungle Singh, age unknown (m) Pendra Block, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh 27 May 2015 Dalit or Adivasi; reportedly did not have a single grain in his stomach as per post mortem report. Indian Express
Lambu Ram, 60 yrs (m) Bagicha, Jashpur, Chhattisgarh October 2015 Adivasi; had to mortgage PDS ration card to meet medical expenses for his father, never got card back. Catch News
Jobha Majhi, 60 yrs (m) Sheikhpura, Bihar 25 March 2016 Musahar (Mahadalit); CM claimed that he had an AAY card and had got grain in January 2016. TOI report

The Telegraph

Ramsurat, 50 yrs (m) Nalanda June 2016 Dalit; had reportedly not eaten for 10-20 days; survived by an 8 year old son Newsx.com
Govinda 5 years, (m),

Aishwarya/Munni, 2 yrs (f)

Koransarai, Dumrao, Buxar, Bihar 26 August,

1 September, 2018

Musahar (Dalit); father in jail for alleged participation in violent protest. Family had PDS ration card, but unable to get Aadhaar card made, so were not getting rations for the past 8 months; No work under NREGA Bhaskar.com and

The Wire

Paro, 2 yrs, Shikha, 4 yrs, and Mansi 8 yrs (f) Mandavali, East Delhi, Delhi 25 July, 2018 Mother was mentally unstable, father unemployed used to operate cycle rickshaw, did not have a ration card Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan
Indradeo Mali, 40 yrs (m) Hazaribagh, Jharkhand December 2016 Dalit; No food cooked in house since three days before death. Family did not get ration for two months preceding death. News18.com and Dainik Jagran
Santoshi Kumari, 11 years (f) Simdega, Jharkhand 28 September, 2017 Dalit; Santoshi’s family was denied ration for six months preceding her death. Its ration card was deleted as it was not linked with an Aadhaar.   RTFC Jharkhand statement
Baijnath Ravidas, 40 yrs (m) Jharia, Dhanbad, Jharkhand 21 October, 2017 Dalit; rickshaw puller, long term deprivation; had applied for PDS ration card many times, but did not get it. Family got ration card after his death, his wife awaits widow pension Report of fact finding by HRLN


Ruplal Marandi, 60 yrs (m) Deoghar, Jharkhand 23 October, 2017 Adivasi; Ruplal’s family was denied its ration for two months as it could not prove its identity through ABBA. HRLN fact finding report
Lalita Kunwar, 45 yrs (f) Garhwa, Jharkhand October 2017 Adivasi; Lalita’s family was denied ration for six months preceding her death. Prabhat Khabar
Premani Kunwar, 64 yrs (f) Garhwa, Jharkhand 1 December 2017 OBC; After Sep 2017, Premani’s social security pension was redirected to someone else’s bank account linked with her Aadhaar. She did not receive her ration in Nov 2017 even though she successfully authenticated herself.   RTFC Jharkhand fact finding
Etwariya Devi, 67 yrs (f) Garhwa, Jharkhand 25 December 2017 OBC; Etwariya’s family was denied its ration due to ABBA failure. In Dec 2017 she did not receive her pension, allegedly due to authentication failure. RTFC Jharkhand fact finding report
Budhni Soren, 40 yrs (f) Giridih, Jharkhand 13 January 2018 Adivasi; Budhni was not issued a ration card (possibly as she did not have Aadhaar). She was not issued a widow pension. eNewsRoom and Times of India
Lukhi Murmu, 30 yrs (f) Pakur, Jharkhand 23 January, 2018 Adivasi; Lukhi’s family was denied ration since Oct 2017 due to ABBA failure. RTF Jharkhand fact finding
Sarthi Mahtain, age unclear (f) Dhanbad, Jharkhand 29 April, 2018 Sarthi was denied her ration and pension as she could not go to the ration shop or bank for ABBA due to illness. Dainik Jagran and Jansatta.com
Savitri Devi Mahto, 55 yrs (f) Giridih, Jharkhand 2 June, 2018 OBC; Savitri’s family was not issued a ration card. She did not receive her pension as her account was not linked with Aadhaar. RTFC Jharkhand fact finding report
Mina Musahar, 45 yrs (f) Chatra, Jharkhand 4 June, 2018 Dalit; Neither Mina nor her son’s family was not issued a AAY ration card.   RTF Jharkhand report
Chintaman Malhar, 40 yrs (m) Ramgarh, Jharkhand 14 June, 2018 Musahar (Dalit); Chintaman’s family was not issued a ration card. The entire village was also deprived of rations, pensions and other basic entitlements. RTFC fact finding report
Lalji Mahto, 70 yrs (m) Jamtara, Jharkhand 10 July, 2018 OBC; He did not receive his pension for the past three months Dainik Jagran
Rajendra Birhor, 39 yrs (m) Ramgarh, Jharkhand 24 July, 2018 Adivasi; Rajendra’s family was not issued a ration card. It also did not get social security pension entitled to particularly vulnerable tribes. Died of destitution. Report of RTFC fact finding team, NDTV.com
Chamtu Sabar, 45 yrs (m) Dhalbhumgarh, East Singhbhum 16 September, 2018 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (Adivasi), newspaper report states that there was no food in the house for the 4-5 days before he died. Entitled to Antyodaya card (as PVTG) but did not have one. Suffered from TB. Prabhat Khabar
Narayan 55yrs, Subbu 52 yrs, Venkatrama 46 yrs (m) Gokarna, Karnataka 2 Jul, 8 Jul and 13 Jul, 2017 Dalit brothers, The brothers’ family was denied ration for six months preceding their death. Their ration card was deleted as it was not linked with Aadhaar.   PPT based on fact finding

PUCL Report

The Quint

Lalit Rangari, 36 yrs (f) Gondiya, Maharashtra July 2015 Dalit; widow, two children, one of whom is visually disabled. India Today
Bishnu Charan, 65 yrs (m) Rajnagar Block, Kendrapara, Odisha October 2015 Name was struck off PDS ration card list during NFSA rollout. Had two sons, one was disabled and married; Died from the stress that his name had been put on the ‘suspect list’ of the NFSA Odisha Times
Suadei, 55 yrs (f) Ghutupali village, Bolangir, Odisha 8 December 2015 Did not get PDS grain the month she died. Times of India
TK Mohananda, 65 yrs (m) Komna block, Nuapada 14 December 2015 Dalit, landless. Has two mentally challenged children. Was AAY beneficiary earlier, but name was struck off PDS ration card list during NFSA rollout. The Hindu
Khetrabasi Pradhan, 80 yrs (m) Daspalla, Nayagarh March 2016 Could not get pension because age was wrongly recorded on voter card Odisha Sun Times
Rankanidhi Khura, 39 yrs (M) Balichhara village, Junagarh, Kalahandi, Odisha 25 March 2017 Khura a mentally challenged person lived with aged mother and brother (also mentally challenged). Family didn’t have PDS card or pension depended solely on earning of their mother. Died due to prolonged unavailability of food. The New Indian Express
Bilas Singh, 30 yrs (f) Barchana, Jajpur, Odisha 14 October, 2017 Her husband said that she did not receive any medical assistance although he had contacted the local ASHA, ANM and anganwadi worker. The New Indian Express
Gobind Behera, age unclear (m) Shantipada, Binjhapur, Jajpur 20 May 2017 Living alone after wife’s death and was surviving on the food provided by neighbours Odisha Sun Times
Kunti Sahu, 35 yrs (f) Khaprakhol, Bolangir, Odisha 28 July 2018 Kharra (Dalit), died on Harishankar road railway station, lived there with her mother, survived by begging, which she could not do for 2 months due to illness. Mother got old age pension, not clear if they had a ration card RTF Odisha fact finding report
Kundru Nag, 68 years (f) Khuntapalli, Sadar Block, Bargarh, Odisha 12 June 2018 Elderly widow, husband and wife received Rs. 300 as pension; denied PDS grain on Antyodaya card. A neighbour denied their rice, was told that she could not be given it because of authentication requirements. Permission to give without authentication came too late. Odisha Post,


Mungre Chhura, 59 yrs (f) Jairpada, Bongomunda, Bolangir, Odisha ~22 August, 2018 Dom (Dalit); widowed 5-7 years ago, did not get pension, used to have PDS ration card, before rollout of NFSA, but deprived after. Ought to have been getting pension and 35kg of rice with an Antyodaya ration card. New Indian Express + RTF Odisha fact finding
Shrikant Dixit, 40 yrs (m) Barabanki, UP June 2016 Post-mortem report found 50gms of food in his stomach India.com
Nathu Prasad 40 yrs (m) Naraini, Banka, UP 1 May 2016 Dalit; had reportedly not eaten for four days, en route to the PDS shop with sister-in-law when he died. CM announced Rs. 5 lakh as relief; The Hindu

Khabar Lahariya

Dharmendra, 28 yrs (m) Soraon tehsil, Allahabad, UP 23 October, 2016 Dalit, “did not possess the Aadhaar card which is required to procure the subsidised ration card for families below the poverty line”, district administration has ordered action against local ration dealer. Daily Mail


Subhash Singh, 42 yrs (m) Dudahi, Kushinagar, UP 10 April, 2017 A week before he died, the dealer refused them PDS grain, had not eaten for four days, Patrika.com
Shakina, 50 years (f) Bareilly, UP 14 November, 2017 Paralysed, weak, had Antyodaya card. The family had been denied ration under the PDS for November, because Shakina was too unwell to be even taken to the shop in a rickshaw for ABBA, as she was every month. NDTV
Nem Chand, 42 yrs (m) Kudaria Ikhlaspur, Bareilly, UP 4 January, 2018 No food in the past three days, was ailing so his 82 year old mother sold the kerosene and grain they had got from the PDS, used to work as barber but stopped after he suffered from paralytic stroke Times of India
Amir Jahan, 36 yrs, m/f Moradabad, UP 25 January, 2018 Had applied for, but not been issued PDS ration card; family was given one after she passed away RTFC fact finding report
Rajwati 60 yrs, Rani 25 (f) Bareilly, UP 5 July, 2018 Committed suicide due to hardship. Ration card cancelled due to lack of Aadhaar Navbharat Times and Jansatta.com
Khushi, 8 yrs (f) Vedai village, Sadabad, Hathras, UP 10 September, 2018 Father worked as a labourer in a cold storage, but was without work for two months. Family had not eaten for a week, family does not have a ration card. Annu, her younger sister also fell unconscious, and was critical The Wire
Sangeeta, 30 yrs (f), Suraj, 8 yrs (m)

Daughter, 2m (f)

Dudahi, Kushinagar, UP 6 and 11 September, 2018 Musahar (Dalit) family, Mother and son died first and a week later 2 month old baby girl died, they had a ration card, had got grain in the previous month NDTV
Fenku, 22 yrs, Pappu 16 yrs (m) Padrauna, Kushinagar, UP 12-13 September, 2018 Musahar (Dalit) brothers, used to get seasonal work as brick kiln workers, were weak and began to remain unwell. Died on two consecutive days. Newsclick.in
Surath Kumar Gayen, 63 yrs (m) Bhatpara, West Bengal 24 March, 2018 His family stopped receiving PDS grains after he was missed during the 2017 digitisation drive. Did not receive pension due to lack of Aadhaar Report of Right to Food and Work Campaign, West Bengal fact finding team