An 11-year-old girl reportedly died due to starvation after the local PDS (Public Distribution System) shop denied her family any food since their ration card was not linked to Aadhaar.
Santoshi Kumari passed away on September 28 but the tragedy went largely unreported until an NGO highlighted the issue, News18 reported.
People living below the poverty line are entitled to subsidised grains under National Food Security Act. In India, 194.6 million people are undernourished, which is the highest in the world, a report by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN stated in 2015.
Kumari comes from an extremely poor family that was completely dependent on the supplies from the ration shop. While her father is mentally disabled, her mother and sister work as daily wage labourers earning a mere Rs 80-90 a day to make both ends meet.
Santoshi Kumari's mother Koyali Devi said: "The PDS shop struck out names from the ration list. They were asking for our Aadhaar number, which we did not have."
While the authorities in the BJP-ruled state are now saying it was malaria that caused her death, the victim's mother said the girl died crying "bhaat bhaat" (food).
Kumari had been studying at a local school where she would get lunch under midday meal scheme. But due to Durga Puja, the school remained shut.
The NGO that raised the issue said the child starved for 8 days before breathing her last.
Though some locals went to Jaldega block officer to get the family's ration card renewed, by the time it did reach them, it was October 1.
State Food and Civil Supplies minister Saryu Rai told News18 there were clear instructions that no one should be denied ration for not linking PDS card with Aadhaar.
Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das expressed his condolences over the tragic incident and assured strict action against the guilty.