Committee formed to probe death of the two disabled men

Two disabled sons of an ailing Congress leader have reportedly died of hunger at Sirka colliery in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh block.

District Commissioner Amitabh Kaushal said a committee had been set up to probe the June 16 deaths of Rajneesh Kumar, 25, and Manish Kumar, 28, whose father, Shiv Kumar Singh, 70, has been afflicted with cancer in the jaws and is unable to speak. Their mother Neelam Singh is suffering from cardiac problems and can barely stand.

The committee “will look into the status of their below poverty line (BPL) card and the grain supplied to the family as it is facing economic hardship and deserve benefits under the category,” Mr. Kaushal said.

“There is a difference between starvation, as it happens during famine, and inadequate eating that causes weakness and makes people susceptible to diseases. We will submit a report as soon we get the complete information,” he said.

No post-mortem report was available, he said, as the bodies were cremated before any examination.

Mr. Kaushal said: “We were informed about the condition of the family, and we provided it each month with foodgrains; but as they were all very weak and there was none to prepare food for them, they suffered.”

“Manish and Rajneesh were in very bad condition because of lack of food. For 10 days prior to their deaths, they had survived on water,” a neighbour said.

Mr. Shiv Kumar Singh informed the Block Development Officer in writing that his sons died as they had been mentally and physically very weak.

The neighbours said Mr. Shiv Kumar Singh was a prominent figure, and the family used to lead a good life, when he was associated himself with the Sirka colliery union. But eight years ago, he was given the sack after allegations of financial irregularities were levelled against him. The charges were dropped after an inquiry, but he never got his job back.