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INDIA: Local government ignores starving mother and her three hungry daughters in Uttar-Pradesh

Rajkumari is a 30 year-old mother of three daughters, Usha, Rita and Sangeeta. She is a dalit (scheduled caste/'untouchable') woman with no land and lives with a physical disability. Her husband, Lal Chand recently developed a psychiatric disorder and abandoned his home. Currently, no one knows where he is and his family has lost their only source of income.

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

21 July 2005

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HA-17-2005: INDIA: Local government ignores starving mother and her three daughters in Uttar-Pradesh


INDIA: Malnutrition and hunger; government neglect and inaction; landlessness
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received new information from the Social Development Foundation (SDF) in Delhi on a case involving the hunger and malnutrition plaguing one family in Sonebhadra, Uttar-Pradesh. Despite repeated pleas for food assistance from local authorities, the mother and young children continue to live with extreme hunger.

The AHRC urges you to write to the District Magistrate of Uttar-Pradesh and related authorities requesting that immediate food assistance be provided to the victims. We further ask that the inaction by local administration be investigated and condemned.


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

Location: Ghorawal Tehsil village, Sonebhadra District, Uttar-Pradesh
Persons affected: Rajkumari, age 30, and her daughters Usha (5), Rita (4) and Sangeeta (7 months)

Rajkumari is a 30 year-old mother of three daughters, Usha, Rita and Sangeeta. She is a dalit (scheduled caste/'untouchable') woman with no land and lives with a physical disability. Her husband, Lal Chand recently developed a psychiatric disorder and abandoned his home. Currently, no one knows where he is and his family has lost their only source of income.

After Lal Chand's disappearance, Rajkumari could not provide for her family's needs. Her parents in law were not willing to take in the family so Rajkumari moved to her parent's home in Papari No. 2 village, Robertsganj Block. Her parents, like many other dalits in the area, are landless agricultural workers. Her father is a daily wage labourer and due to a severe drought in the region this year, work has been sporadic. As a result, even in his old age, Rajkumari's father attempts to work everyday but is struggling to provide for his family.

Currently, the family is facing hunger and malnutrition, and has made several pleas to local authorities concerning their hunger situation. Her mother, Tetari, approached the district magistrate of Sonebhadra for assistance but nothing has been received. The head of the village, Mr. Kashi, also has not provided any assistance for the family despite being aware of their current situation.

On April 26, 2005 Rajkumari also attempted to meet with revenue officials and other authorities at the district headquarters in Robertsganj but failed to meet anyone. Authorities at both the District Magistrate and Sub-District Magistrate's offices refused to understand her plight. Such was her desperation that Rajkumari even tried to leave her children behind thinking that it would be better for them, but her mother would not allow it.

Recently, Chaupal, a local organization, has been intervening in the case. On April 26, 2005, the organization wrote a letter to the district magistrate asking him to address the current hunger situation the family is facing. However, despite repeated attempts at communication, nothing has been done at the administrative level.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Starvation is not a new concern in the Sonebhadra district and it is puzzling that in this case, the local authorities have not become involved.

In September 2004, several cases were reported to the District Magistrate and Chief Minister of Uttar-Pradesh regarding starvation in the district. Some 40 villagers had walked over 40 kilometers from their villages during the monsoon season in order to voice their hunger concerns at the district headquarters in Robertsganj. The victims also showed what they were eating, which mostly consisted of leaves and roots from the forest.

The villagers, mostly landless adivasis (indigenous people), have been involved in a land dispute with the forest department for some time. Their landless state severely hinders the villagers' ability to provide food for themselves.

Please see HA-01-2004 for detailed information on the starvation cases that have been occurring in the district for the past few years.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the District Magistrate of Uttar-Pradesh and the other related officials below requesting that the district administration take immediate action in this starvation matter before more lives are lost.

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Dear Mr. __________

Re: INDIA: Local government ignores starving mother and her three hungry daughters in Uttar-Pradesh

Location: Ghorawal Tehsil village, Sonebhadra District, Uttar-Pradesh
Persons affected: Rajkumari, age 30, and her daughters Usha (5), Rita (4) and Sangeeta (7 months)

I am deeply disturbed to learn of the government's inaction in the hunger situation plaguing Rajkumari and her family in the Sonebhadra district, despite attention already having been directed to their plight.

According to the information I received, Rajkumari and her three daughters are living in intolerable conditions and have lost their only source of income. Her husband, Lal Chand, developed a psychiatric disability and abandoned the family some time ago. As Rajkumari herself is physically disabled, she had to return to her father's home in Papari No. 2 village, Robertsganj. Her father however, is also a landless adivasi and thus, cannot support the entire family.

While the mother and children slowly come closer to death by starvation, the local administration has yet to provide any kind of food assistance to the family, despite repeated pleas from the family. On April 26, 2005 Rajkumari attempted to meet with revenue officials and other authorities at the district headquarters in Robertsganj but failed to meet anyone. Authorities at both the District Magistrate and Sub-District Magistrate's offices refused to understand her plight. Such was her desperation that Rajkumari even tried to leave her children behind thinking that it would be better for them, but her mother would not allow it. Village head, Mr. Kashi, has also not afforded any assistance to the family despite being aware of their current situation.

Recently, Chaupal, a local organization, has been intervening in the case. On April 26, 2005, the organization wrote a letter to the district magistrate asking him to address the current hunger situation the family is facing. However, despite repeated attempts at communication, nothing has been done at the administrative level. Meanwhile, Rajkumari and her children continue to live in hunger and abject poverty.

In this regard, I would like to remind you of your obligations under international and national law to safeguard the right to food of the residents under your administration. I am extremely disappointed in the lack of sufficient and timely action in providing assistance and compensation to the victims in this case and request you take immediate action to ensure that Rajkumari and her daughters do not lose their lives to starvation. I further ask that an investigation be conducted into this inaction.


Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Alok Kumar
District Magistrate
Sonebhadra
Collectorate
Robertsganj
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA

2. Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
Chief Minister's Secretariat
Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: + 91 52 2223 0002/2223 9234
Email: cmup@up.nic.in

PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

1. Justice A.P. Mishra
Chairperson
Uttar Pradesh Human Rights Commission
6-A Kalidass Marg
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

OR

27 Park Road
Allahabad
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Tel: +91 52 2272 6742
Fax: +91 52 2272 6743
Email: uphrc@sancharnet.in

2. Justice A. S. Anand
National Human Rights Commission of India
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi 110001
INDIA
Tel: +91 11 2338 2742
Fax: +91 11 2338 4863
Email: covdnhrc@nic.in, ionhrc@nic.in

3. Chairman
National Commission for Scheduled Castes
5th Floor, Loknayak Bhawan,
Khan Market,
New Delhi-110 003
INDIA
Tel: +91 11 2 463 2298 / 2462 0435
E-mail: chairman-ncscst@ncscst.nic.in

4. Mr. Jean Ziegler
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
c/o Mr. Carlos Villan Duran
Room 4-066, OHCHR, Palais Wilson,
Rue des Paquis 52, Geneva
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9300
Fax: +41 22 9179010
Email: sect.hchr@unog.ch

5. Mr. Gian Pietro Bordignon
Country Director
World Food Programme
2 Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi 110057
INDIA
Tel: +91 11 2615 0001
Fax: +91 11 2615 0019

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme—Hunger Alert

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
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