Forty Dalit families spread out mats and took out mangoes, spinach and other raw vegetables on the outskirts of Chowdadenahalli village in Chikballapur. But instead of a picnic, the families are out to protest against the Food and Supplies Department after being denied rations for the past one-and-a-half years.
The reason? Not linking their ration cards to their Aadhaar.
Families including women and children turned up on the outskirts of the village and are steadfast they will not go back to their homes until the Food and Supplies Department gives them their due rations.
We are here because 16 Dalit families in the village are not getting rations for the last one and a half years. When we asked the Food and Supplies Department about this, they said that we have to link our Aadhaar cards to receive rations.Nagesh, Protestor
While the linking of ration cards to Aadhaar was made mandatory in February 2017 to avail food grains from the Public Distribution System, the Centre in October instructed states to not deny Public Distribution System benefits to those who do not have Aadhaar or who have not linked their ration cards to Aadhaar.
The protesters said that they had raised the issue with Karnataka Food and Supplies Minister UT Khader. But they added that even though he assured them that Aadhaar should not be a reason to deny rations and promised to look into the issue, he is yet to take any action.
The villagers spread out mats half a kilometre away from Chowdadenahalli village and began eating raw vegetables and mangoes to assuage their hunger.
We are eating spinach leaves and other raw vegetables. We want the Food and Supplies Minister to hear our voice and resolve this issue.Shashiraj, Activist from Chintamani, Kolar
The testimonies of the villagers in Chikballapur are the latest among a number of cases of rations being denied to those who have not linked their Aadhaar cards.
In October, over 20 people from various districts of Karnataka shared their stories of struggle and helplessness after they were denied rations for failing to link Aadhaar at a public hearing organised by The Right to Food campaign in Bengaluru.
(This story was first published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission)