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INDIA: Five-year-old Dalit girl facing imminent death from starvation in Raitara village of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh

Maya Musahar is the daughter of Ms. Jiyuti and Mr. Patalu Musahar. The family stays in the Raitara Musahar ghetto in Pindra village of Badagaw block in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh. The family works for the village head as bonded laborers. They hardly get 50 Rupees [1.01 USD] as their wage per day, that too whenever their employer Mr. Rajkumar Yadav is willing to pay. It is alleged that Rajkumar and his brother Mr. Sijan Yadav are known criminals of the locality. Sijan is alleged to be involved in several kidnappings for ransom in the district. It is also alleged that the village head has kept the Musahars in the Raitara ghetto and never allows them to leave the place without his permission, which he never give.

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME

Hunger Alert

23 July 2007
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HA-007-2007: INDIA: Five-year-old Dalit girl facing imminent death from starvation in Raitara village of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh

INDIA: 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 its local partner the PVCHR, a human rights organisation based in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh regarding the case of Maya Musahar, a five-year-old girl who is suffering from Grade IV malnutrition in Raitara Musahar ghetto in Pindra village. Raitara is in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh. Grade IV malnutrition is fatal in the absence of immediate medical attention. Maya at the age of five weighs only nine kilo.

CASE DETAILS:

Maya Musahar is the daughter of Ms. Jiyuti and Mr. Patalu Musahar. The family stays in the Raitara Musahar ghetto in Pindra village of Badagaw block in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh. The family works for the village head as bonded laborers. They hardly get 50 Rupees [1.01 USD] as their wage per day, that too whenever their employer Mr. Rajkumar Yadav is willing to pay. It is alleged that Rajkumar and his brother Mr. Sijan Yadav are known criminals of the locality. Sijan is alleged to be involved in several kidnappings for ransom in the district. It is also alleged that the village head has kept the Musahars in the Raitara ghetto and never allows them to leave the place without his permission, which he never give.

It is reported that there are 27 Musahar families living in Raitara and all these families suffer from similar situation of acute food shortage. The nearest Public Food Distribution Shop is about two kilometers away from the village. There are no public health service centers anywhere near the village. The nearest one is the public health centre at Badagaw which is kilometers away from Raitara. Even if the Public Food Distribution Shop was close by Maya or her parents would not benefit from it since the family does not have a ration card.

Maya was taken to the Badagaw public health centre on July 6, 2007. The doctor who examined Maya issued a certificate that she is suffering from Grade IV malnutrition and that she requires immediate medical attention. However, Maya could not be admitted in the hospital since the centre lacked any facilities. This also reflects the situation of the primary health care system in Uttar Pradesh, where a large number of the population is poor and requires government sponsored medical care.

As of now Maya is in a pitiable state of physic and her parents cannot stay back at home to care for her. This is because is they did and did not show up for work they would be beaten up by the village head. So when Maya’s parents leave for work, they live Maya in the custody of the other older women in the village.

The Auxiliary Nursing Mother (ANM) [a government para-medical officer] who is supposed to visit the village regularly only came to the village once in the past sixty years. This was during the anti-polio campaign, that too only once. Most of the residents of the village do not have any ration cards to get ration through the Public Food Distribution Shop. Those who have their cards receive less quantity of food grains than what have been allotted to them in their cards.

The AHRC has in the past issued several hunger alerts about the situation of food security in Uttar Pradesh. In some cases, the state government, after heavy pressure has intervened, but in several other cases the intervention by the government is blocked due to the caste prejudices at the local level. The most recent Hunger Alert from Raitara village is HA-006-2007.

It is alleged that the village head Rajkumar influences the district administration not to attend to the demands of the Musahars so that he could have them at their disposal and continue to force them to work on slave like conditions in his farm. Due to this neglect three children have died in Raitara within the past several months from acute starvation. Additionally, the Public Food Distribution System in Uttar Pradesh and in most of India is corrupt and fails to deliver, though it only covers a small section of the population. For further information on this issue please see AL-011-2007.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below and urge them to immediately intervene in the situation. Please write to the District Magistrate of Varanasi in particular so that immediate attention is brought into the case and the families requiring urgent help are attended to by the district administration.

To support this appeal, please click here:

Sample letter:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Five-year-old Dalit girl facing imminent death from starvation in Raitara village of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh

Name of the victim: Maya Musahar, aged 5 years, daughter of Mr. Patalu Musahar, residing at Raitara Musahar ghetto, Pindra village, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Place of incident:  Raitara Musahar ghetto, Pindra

I am writing to you to express my concern regarding the case of Maya Musahar, a five year old girl who is facing imminent death due to starvation and malnutrition within your jurisdiction. I am informed that Maya lives with her parents in Raitara in a one room thatched house. I am also informed that Maya is suffering from Grade IV malnutrition and she is facing imminent death due to it.

I am aware that Maya was taken to the Public Health Centre at Badagaw on July 06, 2007 and that the doctor has certified that she is suffering from Grade IV malnutrition. The doctor advised that unless Maya receives immediate medical attention, she may die these days. However, Maya was not admitted at the centre due to lack of required facilities.

I am informed that the village head Mr. Rajkumar Yadav is keeping Maya’s parents as well as other families in Raitara Musahar ghetto under slave like conditions exploiting them for free labour in his farms. I am informed that he has prevented any government facilities to reach the village to prevent the Musahars from benefiting from it. I am informed that for this the village head use his connections with the corrupt officials in the district administration.

I am also informed that at least 27 Musahar families in the same ghetto suffer from similar situation if not worse conditions. I therefore urge you to provide immediate medical attention to Maya and other children in the Raitara Musahar ghetto. I also urge you to ensure that proper services like free ration and child care are provided to the Musahars in Raitara.

Yours truly,

___________

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO:

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

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

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

4. National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
Government of India
5th Floor, Loknayak Bhawan
Khan Market
New Delhi 110003
INDIA
Tel: + 91 11 2462 0435
Fax: + 91 11 2462 5378

5. Mr. Jean Zeigler
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

6. Mr. Doudou Diene
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10,
SWITZERLAND
Tel: + 41 22 917 93 88
Fax: + 41 22 917 9006

Thank you.

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

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