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INDIA: A three-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl may die soon due to malnourishment in Uttar Pradesh

Tinni Musahar [picture 1] is aged three years and weighs only nine kilos. His sister Sushila [picture 2] is one year old and weighs only five kilos. Both are suffering from Grade IV malnutrition which is life threatening in the absence of immediate medical care. Tinni and Sushila were taken to the public health centre, Pindra where the doctor certified Tinni and Sushila being suffering from Grade IV malnutrition.

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME

Hunger Alert

9 August 2007

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HA-009-2007: INDIA: A three-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl may die soon due to malnourishment in Uttar Pradesh

INDIA: Right to food; caste based discrimination; failure of the local administration; corruption
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from our local partner the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights [PVCHR], a human rights organisation based in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh that Tinni Musahar, a three-year-old boy and Sushila Musahar, a one-year-old girl may die soon from acute malnourishment in Raitara Musahar ghetto of Pindra village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh. Tinni is the brother of Sushila. Their parents are not able to find food for the children and have been denied any support from the state government thus far.

CASE DETAILS:

Tinni Musahar [picture 1] is aged three years and weighs only nine kilos. His sister Sushila [picture 2] is one year old and weighs only five kilos. Both are suffering from Grade IV malnutrition which is life threatening in the absence of immediate medical care. Tinni and Sushila were taken to the public health centre, Pindra where the doctor certified Tinni and Sushila being suffering from Grade IV malnutrition.

Their father Kanayyia is unemployed and finds it hard to get any employment in the caste ridden Hindu society. The family belongs to the Musahar community, which is considered as untouchable in India. The family lives in the Raitara Musahar ghetto of Pindra village.

Raitara Musahar ghetto is in Pindra village of Varanasi district. The AHRC on three previous occasions had issued hunger alerts reporting cases of acute starvation from Raitara Musahar ghetto. The first case, issued on July 17, 2007 was concerning Mulayam Musahar, a boy aged five years. Mulayam is suffering from Grade III malnourishment. After reporting this case the AHRC had also reported two other cases in succession. The case of Maya Musahar, a five-year-old girl suffering from Grade IV malnutrition, was reported on July 23, 2007 and that of Rema Musahar, a two-year-old girl, also suffering from Grade IV malnutrition, was reported on July 31, 2007.

There were two additional follow-up alerts issued by the AHRC reporting developments in Raitara after the local intervention by the PVCHR in Raitara. These appeals could be viewed at HU-002-2007 and HU-003-2007.

The state government, on receipt of the hunger alerts has responded to the call for immediate help by the residents in the Musahar ghetto of Raitara. It is reported that the state government has ordered the district administration to immediately intervene in the situation. It is reported that the Block Development Officer [BDO] from Pindra block had visited Raitara. This was the first visit by a government officer to Raitara Musahar ghetto. Several other government officers including a medical doctor also visited the Raitara Musahar ghetto once the hunger alerts were issued.

In follow-up the Additional District Magistrate also visited the village to study and verify the situation. This was reported by the AHRC through an update to the hunger alert on August 3, 2007, as HU-002-2007. In the meanwhile the Public Food Distribution [PDS] shop in Kharuwa near Raitara was ordered to distribute rationed food grains to all members of the Musahar community in Pindra village. Accordingly the members of the Musahar community started going to the PDS shop at Kharuwa on August 6, 2007.

This was objected by the village head of Pindra Mr. Rajkumar Yadav. Yadav ordered the PDS shop licensee not to distribute rationed articles to the Musahars. Mr. Santhosh Patel, the staff of PVCHR tried to intervene. But Yadav threatened Santhosh and abused him of having influenced the Musahars by buying them country liquor and rallying them against Yadav. Santhosh immediately contacted the SDM Mr. Anand Swaroop over his telephone and informed him that the village head Mr. Rajkumar Yadav is preventing the Musahars collecting their legitimate supply of rationed food grains from the PDS shop.

The SDM immediately shouted at Santhosh abusing him by saying that he and his organisation is bringing shame for the country and that if Santhosh pursued the complaint against the village head the SDM would book Santhosh with criminal cases and ask the police to arrest him. This incident was reported as an update on August 7, 2007 as HU-003-2007.

In the meanwhile the situation of starvation and hunger of the Musahar community in Raitara was reported through a special report aired by the NDTV. The report was titled ‘Mulayam, Maya namesakes starve’. This report was aired as a part of primetime news in India on August 5, 2007. The state government was immediate to respond. The Additional District Magistrate – Administration [ADM – Admn.] of Varanasi district visited Pindra village on August 6 and ordered to issue red ration cards to all members of the Musahar community living in different ghettos in Raitara, Karunwa and Ramaipur Musahar ghettos.

It is reported that Kanayyia and his family was denied a ration card through out of the 27 families in Raitara 25 got ration cards. These cards were issued after the intervention of the PVCHR and the AHRC. A Red Ration Card is issued to a person/family that is poor and below the poverty line entitling the person to receive food grains through the PDS shops at a highly subsidised rate.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the District Magistrate of Varanasi in particular so that Tinni and Sushila will immediately receive medical attention and their family will also receive a ration card. In this context the AHRC and the PVCHR also request you to kindly respond to our earlier alerts issued concerning cases from Pindra which is available at: HA-006-2007; HA-007-2007; HA-008-2007; HU-002-2007 and HU-003-2007.

To support this appeal, please click here:

Sample letter:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Please take immediate action to save the life of Tinni Musahar and Sushila Musahar

Name of the victims:
1. Tinni Musahar, aged three years, son of Kannayia Musahar, residing at Raitara Musahar ghetto, Pindra village, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
2. Sushila Musahar, aged one year, brother of Tinni Musahar
Place of incident:  Raitara Musahar ghetto, Pindra village, Varanasi district

I am writing to express my appreciation of the state government’s initiative to address the acute food shortage in the Musahar ghettos in Pindra village of Varanasi district. I am informed that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and its local partner, the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), had sent out five successive cases in the past two weeks reporting instances of acute food shortage from Raitara and that the response of the state government was in answer to these alerts.

I am informed that the district administration officers like the Block Development Officer [BDO], the District Magistrate [DM], the Additional District Magistrate [ADM] and a doctor from the nearby public health centre had visited Pindra and its Musahar ghettos in the past few days. I am also informed that the DM has sanctioned red ration cards for all Musahar families residing within Pindra village.

However, while appreciating the initiatives taken by the district administration to address the acute starvation of the Musahar families in Pindra, I am now informed about the case of three-year-old Tinni and one-year-old Sushila who are suffering from Grade IV malnutrition in Raitara Musahar ghetto.

I am informed that Tinni weighs nine kilos and Sushila weighs five kilos. I am also informed that both Tinni and Sushila were taken to the public health centre Pindra where the doctor examined them and certified that both children may die if they do not receive immediate and specialised medical attention. I am also informed that the public health centre at Pindra cannot provide such treatment since the centre lacks any such facilities.

I am further informed that Mr. Kannayia, the father of the two children does not have any job and finds it difficult to get any since the Musahar community is considered as untouchable in India. I am also aware that the Kannayia family does not have a ration card enabling them to collect rationed articles through the ration shop.

I therefore urge you to take immediate steps so that you will intervene in this case too ensuring the safety of Tinni and Sushila. I further urge you to ensure that Tinni and Sushila receive immediate medical attention at the state expense.

I also request you to take appropriate actions in the two earlier cases brought to your notice by the PVCHR and the AHRC concerning Pindra. These cases are (1) the case calling for your immediate intervention to prevent the village head of Pindra Mr. Rajkumar Yadav from interfering with government sponsored programmes in Pindra and (2) the case where Mr. Santhosh Patel, a human rights activist associated with the PVCHR being threatened by the Sub Divisional Magistrate Mr. Anand Swaroop.

I request you continued support for the Musahar families residing in the Musahar ghettos in Pindra and to ensure that the situation of acute food shortage in the village is addressed immediately.

Yours truly,

___________

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

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

2. Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission of India
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi-110001
INDIA
Tel: + 91 11 23074448
E-mail: chairnhrc@nic.in

3. National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
Government of India
5th Floor, Loknayak Bhawan
Khan Market, New Delhi 110003
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 2462 5378

4. Mr. Jean Zeigler
UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
Room 4-066, OHCHR, Palais Wilson,
Rue des Paquis 52, Geneva
SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 9179010

5. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General on human rights defenders
Room 1-040
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS)

Thank you.

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

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