Supreme Court had directed state to ensure proper care to the surviving family members 11 years ago
It was a Herculean effort for frail Sarju Munda (21) to shoulder the body of his younger brother Kamlesh who died on Friday after battling starvation related diseases for nearly two months at Betulkhurd village in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand.
Kamlesh is the fourth member in the tribal family to die of starvation. His father Sarju, mother Shanti Devi and sister Ruby Kumari had died of starvation in December, 2003.
Kamlesh’s death comes on the day when Union tribal affairs minister, Jual Oram trumpeted the welfare schemes for tribal people across the country in New Delhi.
Kamlesh’s body which was kept on a rope woven cot appeared more like a skeleton.
“Hunger has eaten every inch of his body,” Niyam Munda, a neighbour said. The only surviving member of the family, Sarju, fainted while performing the last rites of his brother. Sarju, too, is severely malnourished.
When Sarju’s mother, father and sister had died one after another in 2003 between December 16 and 20, the Supreme Court, taking cognisance of the three starvation deaths, had directed the state government to take care of the family and ensure that all benefits are provided to them.
Abu Imran, deputy commissioner of Ramgarh district said that deceased Kamlesh was shifted to a tribal welfare hostel. He was also enrolled in a middle school. Last year, Kamlesh had appeared for the class X examination but failed in all subjects.
“Kamlesh then shifted to his house in Betulkhurd village,” Abu Imran said, adding that deceased had also taken food grains under Antodaya Scheme in the month of August and September. However, Imran was at loss for words when asked why deceased was allowed to leave the hostel.
“We have started a probe,” he said.
In 2012, two sons of Congress leader Shiv Kumar Singh had also died of starvation related diseases. Manish and Rajnish, who were in their late 20s, breathed their last in the Sirka Colliery locality.
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