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INDIA: Five-year-old Musahar boy may die from starvation in Raitara of Pindra village in Varanasi in the coming days

Mulayam, aged 5 years is the son of Ms. Reshma Musahar and Mr. Sajeevan. They live in Raitara Musahar ghetto of Pindra village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh. At the age of 5, Mulayam weighs only 10 kilos. Mulayam suffers from Grade III malnutrition which if not treated immediately is fatal. Mulayam has a sister and his mother is pregnant.

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal

17 July 2007
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HA-006-2007: INDIA: Five-year-old Musahar boy may die from starvation in Raitara of Pindra village in Varanasi in the coming days

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, regarding the case of Mulayam, a five-year-old boy who is suffering from starvation. Mulayam lives with his mother and his sister who also suffers from malnourishment in Raitara Musahar ghetto in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh state. At the age of five, Mulayam is just 10 kilos and is suffering from Grade III malnutrition.

CASE DETAILS:

Mulayam, aged 5 years is the son of Ms. Reshma Musahar and Mr. Sajeevan. They live in Raitara Musahar ghetto of Pindra village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh. At the age of 5, Mulayam weighs only 10 kilos. Mulayam suffers from Grade III malnutrition which if not treated immediately is fatal. Mulayam has a sister and his mother is pregnant.

Reshma and Sajeevan work for the local village head in his farms. 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 them. 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 whenever Sajeevan requested for the payment of arrears of wages, Rajkumar threatened him that he would be beaten up and killed, if required.

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.

Mulayam was taken to the Badagaw public health centre on 10 July 2007. The doctor who examined Mulayam issued a certificate that Mulayam is suffering from Grade III malnutrition and that he requires immediate medical attention. However, Mulayam 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 require government sponsored medical care.

Mulayam has already lost his vision in his left eye due to malnutrition. His right eye is also getting affected. Mulayam’s family live in a one-room thatched house and has hardly a meal a day. Please see picture 1 [Mulayam], picture 2 [Mulayam, his sister and mother], picture 3 [Mulayam’s house] and picture 4 [Raitara Musahar ghetto]. While the Musahar ghetto is surrounded by lush agricultural land, the Musahars staying in the ghetto and working in these fields are starving to death.

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.

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 Musahar boy may die from starvation in Raitara of Pindra village in Varanasi in the coming days

Name of victim: Mulayam Musahar, aged 5 years, son of Mr. Sajeevan 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 Mulayam Musahar, a five year old boy who is facing imminent death due to starvation and malnutrition within your jurisdiction. I am informed that Mulayam lives with his parents in Raitara in a one room thatched house. I am also informed that Mulayam is suffering from Grade III malnutrition and he is facing imminent death due to it.

I am aware that Mulayam was taken to the Public Health Centre at Badagaw on 10 July and that the doctor has certified that he is suffering from Grade III malnutrition. The doctor advised that unless Mulayam receives immediate medical attention, he may die these days. However, Mulayam was not admitted at the centre due to lack of required facilities. I am also aware that Mulayam has lost his vision in his left eye due to malnutrition.

I am informed that the village head Mr. Rajkumar Yadav is keeping Mulayam’s family 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 Mulayam 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,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER 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
Tel: + 91 11 2462 0435
Fax: + 91 11 2462 5378

4. 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

5. 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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