Hunger Haunts Jharkhand, Govt denies deaths by starvation

Sitala’s family in the village of Jharkhand’s Giridih district is on the verge of starvation. But, god forbid, if any of them failed to bear hunger, the death would be called due to malnutrition, tuberculosis or stomach disorder. Because, as far as the state government is concerned, no one dies of starvation in Jharkhand. Hunger is now a serial killer in the state with the latest victim being Savitri Devi of Giridih district, the same where Budhni Soren breathed her last.

Warm water with Lemon peels in it might be for finger bowls in our local restaurants. But it’s a dinner for Sitala and her three children, On their lucky day, they can relish some salt with it.

For the government, even the death of Budhni Soren this year in January was “so-called starvation death”. Budhni was a tribal woman who had spent her last days scouring for edible leaves in the nearby forest. She wasn’t allowed to share her seven-year-old son’s mid-day meal at his school. When she couldn’t kill her hunger, the hunger killed her.

But responsible authorities are in complete denial. According to the Deputy Commissioner of Giridih who goes by the name Manoj, it cannot be called ‘starvation death’ unless the whole family dies. “None of these deaths have been established as starvation deaths. Around a month ago, the death of Savitri Devi was also said to be a so-called starvation death. But she had a whole family. If it was starvation, it should have struck all the members,” he says.

There’s a similar story in Ramgarh district, just a kilometer from the Ranchi-Hazaribagh expressway. There’s a dense forest in Mandu block of the district but dwellers of the Kundaria settlement still go to bed hungry. There are various districts in the state of Jharkhand which suffers from starvation deaths but still the government kees a blind eye and refuse to accept the fact that many more are vulnerable to starvation. In the last 10 months alone at least 12 people have died allegedly out of hunger.