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INDIA: A 18-month-old girl may die soon from starvation in Uttar Pradesh

Alina Sahin [picture 1] is 18 months old and the youngest daughter of Mr. Ansar Ahmed. Ansar has two daughters and a son. Ansar's wife died six months before and Alina is taken care of by her paternal grandmother.

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME

Hunger Alert

3 September 2007
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HA-011-2007: INDIA: A 18-month-old girl may die soon from starvation in Uttar Pradesh

INDIA: Corruption; right to food; administrative inaction
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from its local partner the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights [PVCHR] in Uttar Pradesh regarding the case of 18-month-old Alina Shain who is suffering from acute malnourishment of Mahmoodpur ghetto in Lohta Panchayath of Kashi Vidhya Peed Block in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh. Alina is suffering from Grade IV malnutrition which is life threatening. Alina's father is a handloom weaver who finds it difficult to find food for the family. Alina's life is the result of a corrupt administration and symbolises the failing weaving industry in the state.

CASE DETAILS:

Alina Sahin [picture 1] is 18 months old and the youngest daughter of Mr. Ansar Ahmed. Ansar has two daughters and a son. Ansar's wife died six months before and Alina is taken care of by her paternal grandmother.

Ansar is a handloom weaver who finds it difficult to fetch the family enough food everyday. Since the past three months Alina's health is deteriorating. Now Alina is fighting for her life. It is at this time the PVCHR came to know about Alina and her family. Currently Alina is taken care of by the PVCHR.

Before the PVCHR intervened, Alina was taken to the local Anganwadi [local medical and child care centre] in Lohta along with her sister. However, at the Anganwadi Alina's sister Khusnuma was beaten-up by the teacher for asking help. Khusnuma was seriously injured in the incident. Alina and Khusnuma were taken to the Anganwadi with an expectation that the teacher at the Anganwadi would provide some food to them seeing their plight.

The Anganwadi is a government run centre where nutritious food and primary medical care is expected to be provided to the poor children. It is also a place where the staffs are expected to keep records of the general health conditions of rural children who visit the Anganwadi. These records are vital because they are also used by the state governments to take policy decisions regarding medical care for rural children.

There are Auxiliary Nursing Mothers [ANM] who are supposed to be working through the Anganwadis to attend to the immediate medical needs of rural children. In the Lotha Anganwadi there is one such ANM. This ANM was aware of Alina's condition since she had met her when Alina was at the Anganwadi. However the ANM refused to provide any help to Alina.

Alina's grandmother is supposed to be paid a nominal sum of money as old-age pension. The pension is distributed to the aged persons in the state by the government so that they receive some financial help in the absence of any pension from former employment. This pension distribution is a venue of high degree of corruption. Several persons like Alina's grandmother do not receive any pension even though they are entitled to it. As of today Alina and her entire family and several other similar families formerly involved in the handloom weaving industry across Uttar Pradesh is facing similar situation.

There have been several promises and assurances from the state government guaranteeing a considerate approach to address the problems the weaver community in Uttar Pradesh face. However, most of these promises never materialised into any active programmes. For example there have been several meetings organised by the PVCHR where they brought together senior state government officers and the members of the handloom weaving community together so that the weavers could address their concerns to the state government officers.

During these meetings the government officers would promise that they would immediately look into the concerns of the weavers, which will be soon forgotten even before the officers leave the venue. The most recent attempt by the PVCHR was to bring one of the senior most members of the National Planning Commission to meet the members of the weaver community in Uttar Pradesh to listen to their grievances and recommend to the central government about required policy changes to reduce the suffering of the handloom weaver community in the state. The member of the National Planning Commission is expected to submit her report to the government soon.

Alina's case is a typical example that better explains the condition of handloom weavers in Uttar Pradesh. For further information regarding the condition of handloom weavers in that state please see HA-12-2005AS-172-2007 and UG-003-2007.

For further information regarding the failing handloom weaving industry in Uttar Pradesh, please contact Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, the PVCHR, SA4/2A, Daulatpur, Varanasi – 221002, Uttar Pradesh, INDIA. Telephone +91-9935599333. Email: pvchr@yahoo.com 

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh to express your concern in this case. The AHRC is writing separate letters to Mr. Jean Zeigler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food requesting an immediate intervention in this case.

To support this appeal, please click here:

Sample letter:

Ms. Mayawati
Chief Minister
Chief Minister's Secretariat
Lucknow,
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: + 91-522-2230002/2239234
Email: csup@up.nic.in

Dear Chief Minister,

INDIA: Please take immediate action to save 18 month-old Alina Sahin

Name of the Victim: Alina Sahin, aged 18 months, daughter of Ansar Ahmed, Mahmoodpur, Lohta Panchayath, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Location: Mahamoodpur ghetto in Lohta Panchayath, Kashi Vidhyapeed block, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh

I am disturbed to see the picture and to come to know about the case of Alina Sahin who is suffering from Grade IV malnutrition in Mahmoodpur ghetto of Lohta Panchayath of Varanasi district. Alina is 18 months old and is the youngest daughter of Mr. Ansar Ahmed, a handloom weaver who finds it difficult to find food for his family. Alina's mother passed away a few months before and she is taken care of by her grandmother.

Alina was taken to the local Anganwadi along with her sister seeking medical help. However, the Anganwadi teacher misbehaved with Alina's sister Khusnuma and started beating Khusnuma and ended-up seriously injuring Khusnuma. Alina and her sister did not receive any treatment or help from the Anganwadi. Now Alina and her family is taken care of by the local human rights organisation, the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights. I am informed that Alina's case symbolises the living condition of millions of handloom weaver community in Uttar Pradesh.

I therefore urge you to immediately intervene in this case and ensure that Alina receives immediate medical attention. I further urge you to make sure that the weaver families suffering from similar conditions in Uttar Pradesh are immediately attended to.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE ALSO SEND A COPY OF YOUR LETTER TO:

1. Ms. Veena Kumari
District Magistrate
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: 91 5422501450

2. National Human Rights Commission
Sardar Patel Bhaven, Sansad Marg,
New Delhi - 110 001
INDIA
Tel: + 91 11 23346244
Fax: + 91 11 23366537
E-mail: ionhrc@hub.nic.in or chairnhrc@nic.in

3. Secretariat
Right to Food Campaign – India
Q - 21-B, Top Floor, Jungpura Extn.
New Delhi – 110014
INDIA
Email: righttofood@gmail.com 

4. Regional Director
World Food Programme
Unit No. 2, 7th Floor
Wave Place Building
55 Wireless Road
Lumpini, Patumwan
Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
Fax: +66-2-6554413
Email: bkk.unescap@un.org 

5. Country Director
World Food Programme
2 Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi 110057
INDIA
Fax: +91-11-26150019
Email: wfp.newdelhi@wfp.org

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)

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