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UPDATE (India): NHRC and Supreme Court instruct state government to act on starvation and hunger cases

UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT

UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

17 December 2004

(HA-01-2004: INDIA: Severe hunger in eastern Uttar Pradesh state; HU-01-2004: INDIA: Supreme Court instructs Uttar Pradesh government to look into severe malnutrition and starvation deaths; HA-04-2004: INDIA: Imminent starvation among Dalits classed as Above Poverty Line by authorities in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh)
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HU-02-004: UPDATE (India): NHRC and Supreme Court instruct state government to act on starvation and hunger cases

INDIA: Starvation death, severe malnutrition, landlessness
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Dear friends,

Further to two earlier Hunger Alerts (HA-01-2004) and (HA-04-2004) and one Hunger Alert update (HU-01-2004) on starvation in Uttar Pradesh state, India, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding these cases as follows.


Re: HA-01-2004: INDIA: Severe hunger in eastern Uttar Pradesh state; HU-01-2004: INDIA: Supreme Court instructs Uttar Pradesh government to look into severe malnutrition and starvation deaths

On August 2004, staff from the Social Development Foundation in Delhi visited the villages of Sonebhadra district and found that widespread malnutrition was prevalent. Many of the affected Adivasis, or tribal people, were facing a slow and tortuous death from malnutrition; and they were barely surviving through eating forest produce such as roots and leaves. In addition, the area where the Adivasis are located has been the subject of a lengthy and complicated land dispute involving corrupt forestry and revenue department officers and local government officials.

On 22 September 2004, the Commissioners of the Supreme Court, Dr. N C Saxena and Mr. S R Sankaran, requested the government in a letter to the Chief Secretary of the state government to take prompt actions to protect persons at risk of hunger in Raup village, Sonebhadra district. In the letter, the commissioners urged the government to start programmes to ensure that the right to food of the affected villagers is protected.

The AHRC has received information from the Social Development Foundation, Delhi that officials at Sonebhadra have visited the place and distributed food to the affected people. Furthermore, the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh took a strong line asking officials to ensure that such things do not happen again. However, there has been no change in the land dispute and the affected persons continue to be landless, which is the primary cause of their impoverishment. The affected Adivasis are not simply looking for relief to be provided: reclaiming their land is the most important issue here. Without land, the livelihood and basic human security of these people are destroyed, resulting in food scarcity and finally, starvation.


Re: HA-04-2004: INDIA: Imminent starvation among Dalits classed as Above Poverty Line by authorities in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh

The AHRC reported in September that 13 families in the village of Mahuabari in the Gorakhpur district of eastern Uttar Pradesh were approaching starvation due to loss of livelihood and failure of local authorities to offer any assistance. Heavy rains have also added to their burden by the serious damage incurred on their mud huts, which they have not been able to rebuild. These families traditionally eked out a meager living by making baskets and fans from bamboo. However, they were banned from collecting bamboo in the forest and were told to pay for the bamboo found around their houses, owned by people belonging to a higher caste. In order to purchase bamboo or food, these families had to go to local moneylenders who were charging them exorbitant rates.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India notified the AHRC in a letter of October 12 that it had instructed the concerned government officials to take action on the case within a four week period. According to the information received from the Social Development Forum, officials have been visiting the area and have promised that steps will be taken to alleviate the conditions of the affected persons, including giving land. However, no detailed information is available to this effect yet.

We urge you to see the previous reports and continue writing to the concerned government officials with regards to these cases of severe hunger and starvation in India, until durable satisfactory solutions are found for the affected persons.

Urgent Appeals Desk -- Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
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