LATEHAR (Jharkhand): Jharkhand Food Minister Saryu Rai Saturday directed the Latehar administration to exhume the body of a 65-year-old man for post-mortem in the wake of allegations that he died of starvation three days ago.
Reports published in a section of the local media have claimed that Ramcharan Munda, a resident of Lurgumi Kala village in the district, died of starvation on Wednesday after being denied ration over the past two months, a charge denied by the administration.
Talking to reporters here, Rai said he has taken a serious note of the allegation and directed the administration to follow strict protocol while carrying out an investigation into the case.
"If the reports are true and anybody is found guilty, he or she will be punished as per norms," the minister said, adding the probe would cover all aspects in the case, including the allegation that Munda did not receive ration for two months.
He appealed to the opposition parties to refrain from politicising the issue.
Meanwhile, the sub-divisional magistrate of Mahuadand block in the district, Sudhir Kumar Das, asserted that Munda did not die of starvation and that his family gets all facilities entitled to it.
He also said the local ration dealer died three months ago, and his wife has taken charge of the public distribution system in the village.
"The administration had issued instructions to maintain offline records for distribution of ration following reports that poor internet connectivity is hampering transactions over point-of-sale machines.
Munda and his family were given Rs 2,000 and 50 kg rice," he added.
Several political leaders have reached out to Munda's family after reports of his death surfaced in the local media.
Sources said local members of the Shibu Soren-led Jharkhand Mukti Morcha have given the family 50 kg rice and Rs 5,000 in cash.
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) general Secretary Bandhu Tirkey, who met the bereaved family on Saturday, expressed hope that the government will take necessary action in the case.
"The food minister takes such issues seriously. I expect he will take action soon," he added.