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    An Indian visitor gives a thumb impression to withdraw money from his bank account with his Aadhaar or Unique Identification (UID) card during a Digi Dhan Mela, held to promote digital payment, in Hyderabad on January 18, 2017

    Second Starvation Death in Month Puts India's Unique ID in Firing Line

    © AFP 2019 / Noah SEELAM
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    The Indian government has been pushing for linking the unique ID – Aadhaar- with welfare schemes to avoid duplicitous beneficiaries. However, many cases of genuine beneficiaries being denied subsidized essential commodities have come to light.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Barely a month after a young girl died of starvation in the Indian state of Jharkhand after allegedly being denied a subsidized ration, a similar incident has come into focus and this time from nearby Uttar Pradesh. In this case, too, relatives of the deceased have alleged that the victim died of starvation, as she was not enrolled in the Aadhaar system.

    Aadhaar is a unique number that identifies a person using his or her biometrics. This unique ID scheme is mainly aimed at removing duplicity of a beneficiaries' registration for various welfare schemes. However, the scheme has gathered much flak after cases of genuinely needy people being denied welfare schemes, such as subsidized food grains, for not being enrolled in the Aadhar system.

    READ MORE: Girl's Starvation Death Sparks Controversy Over India's Compulsory ID Numbers

    Shaqina Ashfaq, a 50-year-old paralyzed woman of the Bholepur locality in Fatehganj West of the Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh allegedly collapsed and died, as she was not receiving enough food.

    "We received no rations from the PDS (public distribution system) shop this month. For the past five days, neighbors had been giving us something to eat because there was no food in the house. On Monday night Shaqina slept on an empty stomach. On Tuesday morning she complained of abdominal pain and died," the victim's aged husband Ashfaq Ahmed was quoted as saying by the local media.

    The news made headlines all over the country and people took to social media to vent their frustrations against the government's rigid policies; though the local administration maintained that it was not a case of starvation. 

    "As they buried her without an autopsy being conducted, there is nothing in support of their claim. The body can be exhumed, if needed, to find out the cause of death. I have sent a report on the matter to the senior officials and authorities," local revenue official Satya Prakash said.

    Last month, the government had come under fire for adopting a rigid policy of the compulsory linking of Aadhar with welfare schemes after an 11-year-old girl in the eastern state of Jharkhand allegedly died after she and her family were denied subsidized food for not being able to produce the Aadhaar card.


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