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Jharkhand’s mentally-challenged senior citizen denied ration and pension, dies

Ranchi: A 65-year-old mentally-ill person died in Kodakel village of Murhu block in Khunti district of Jharkhand on Friday. He had been denied ration and pension, claimed Jharkhand chapter of Right to Food campaign.

The Right to Food activists who visited the village and met the family members of the deceased , Sudama Pandey, issued a press communiqué and mentioned that not only Sudama was denied ration and pension but several others in the tribal dominated Murhu village have been facing difficulties because of irregularities in the implementation of welfare schemes.

It reads, “On May 27, a local newspaper published a news of the death of a 60-year-old resident of Kodakel village of Murhu – Sudama Pandey – due to hunger and illness. The report also stated that Sudama Pandey was mentally ill and did not have any caregiver. According to the report, although Sudama did not have a ration card, he received ration till a month and a half ago.”

However, the team learnt that the newspaper report was not accurate and Sudama did not die of starvation. Sudama Pandey was indeed mentally ill, but he was looked after and was regularly fed by his brother’s family. He was physically ill for a few days before his death and had become quite weak. The team also found that, according to his Aadhaar, Sudama was 65-years old.

The RTF report pointed out that Sudama was denied his entitlements of ration and pension. His brothers’ family applied for a ration card for him, but he was never issued one. One of his nephews, Om Prakash tried to get his bank account opened in the Murhu branch of Bank of India, but was unable to do so even after 8-9 attempts.

As Sudama did not have a bank account, he was also denied of his old age pension.

According to Sudama’s relatives, he could have got better care if he had received a pension.

The fact finding team also found other irregularities in the implementation of welfare programmes in the village. One of Sudama’s sisters in law – Vimla Devi – said that she stopped receiving her widow pension in her bank account since last September. She made several trips to the bank to inquire about her pension, but did not receive any information. When the fact finding team checked her details on the Public Finance Management System website, it learnt that her pension amount is getting credited in an Airtel Payment Bank linked with Vimla Devi’s Aadhaar number.

The team found that the ration cardholders of the village complained that the ration dealer – Sumitra Devi – gives 2 kg less per ration card but writes the full entitlement in ration cards and also charges for the full entitlement. They also said that the ration dealer tears the receipt with details of purchased rations.

“Irregularities found in Murhu is rampant across Jharkhand and are regularly highlighted by the Right to Food. However, the government has shown little seriousness in addressing them,” added the RTF communiqué.

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