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Bareilly ‘starvation’ death’: Akhilesh calls it ‘blot on democracy’

Even as the Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday denied that the death of a 50-year-old woman in Bareilly was due to starvation, the Samajwadi Party (SP) expressed its dismay over the incident and said it reflected on the lacunae in the system.

In a tweet, former Chief Minister and national president of the SP, Akhilesh Yadav said the death of the poor woman due to alleged starvation was a “blot on democracy”. He said that if the woman was ill and could not go to the ration shop for her biometric verification to pick up foodgrains then there should have been a system in place to meet such a situation.

“Rules made in the name of the system are not bigger than anyone’s life, very sad,” the 44-year-old said.

The Bareilly administration however remained firm on its stand that prima facie probe into the matter had not indicated that the woman, Sakeena, died of starvation but due to some illness.

Family members of Sakeena however maintain that she died of hunger after her husband was turned away from the ration shop as the ration card was in her name and that she had to be physically present. A team of officials including the ‘nayab tehsildar’, a sub-divisional magistrate and the district supply officer have since recorded the statements of Sakeena’s husband and two sons.

Ram Akshay, the SDM of Meerganj, has categorically refuted the charge of death due to starvation, terming it “baseless and false”.

“We have sent the fact finding report to the DM. There is nothing of this sort as alleged. The deceased had Rs 4,572 in her bank account, so the claim of abject poverty does not stick. Moreover, her neighbours said she had not been keeping well for the past few days,” the SDM said.