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INDIA: Three-year-old Dalit boy may die soon from acute starvation in Jaunpur

Mukesh [picture 1] is three year old. He is the son of Mr. Ram Lagan. They belong to the Chamar community of Bhaisa village in Kerakat administrative block of Jaunpur district. Mukesh may die due to malnutrition if immediate assistance is not provided to him. Mukesh is suffering from Grade IV Malnutrition and he weighs only 5.5 kilograms.

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAM

Hunger Alert

24 November 2007
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HA-014-2007: INDIA: Three-year-old Dalit boy may die soon from acute starvation in Jaunpur

INDIA: Government neglect; caste based discrimination; corruption; right to food; failing public health system
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights [PVCHR] in Uttar Pradesh regarding the case of Mukesh, a three-year-old boy who may die soon due to acute starvation. Mukesh is from the Chamar community, which is considered as untouchable in India by the caste Hindus.

CASE DETAILS:

Mukesh [picture 1] is three year old. He is the son of Mr. Ram Lagan. They belong to the Chamar community of Bhaisa village in Kerakat administrative block of Jaunpur district. Mukesh may die due to malnutrition if immediate assistance is not provided to him. Mukesh is suffering from Grade IV Malnutrition and he weighs only 5.5 kilograms.

Ram Lagan has four children. The eldest, Bablu is aged 16 years. He studied up to class VIII. But he had to drop off from the school since his family could not provide for any further education. Now he is working as a manual labourer. The second son is Dablu, aged 13 years who studied up to class III. He also had to drop off from school and is now assisting Ram in his work. Madhubala, the daughter, is aged five years and is also not attending any school. Mukesh is the fourth who is now suffering from acute malnourishment and the subject of this alert.

The PVCHR activist Ms. Susila Devi came to know about Mukesh and his family from the Pandit Din Dayal Upadhaya Hospital. Sushila was in the hospital regarding the treatment of some other children that PVCHR is now taking care of from other places at the hospital. Being informed about Mukesh and his family the PVCHR has now taken up the case of Mukesh and his family. Mukesh was given immediate medical assistance through the PVCHR. Please see [picture 2] of Mukesh at the hospital.

Mukesh was admitted at the hospital on 13 November 2007. His father Ram had to sell his three-wheeler cycle for Mukesh's earlier treatment while they were at the village. But unfortunately the money was spent for treatment by a quack.

The family lives in appalling conditions. Ram has an Antodaya Anya Yojana (AAY) card and gets 35 kilograms of ration from Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. However, the distribution of the ration is not regular. Additionally, food materials distributed through the ration shop is not adequate enough to keep malnutrition away from an infant.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Bhaisa is one of the villages in Jaunpur district predominantly occupied by the Chamar community. Their main source of income is weaving, manual labour and farming. The Anganwadi [child care centre] staff and Auxiliary Nursing Mothers [ANM] are appointed in this area. But Mukesh and his sister were not registered at the Anganwadi centre.

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.

The Anganwadi staffs are also trained in adopting WHO protocols. The activities at the Anganwadis are: 1) continuous mapping of severely malnourished children in village, 2) regular weighing of children with the involvement of mothers, 3) tracking and listing, referral services, home visits by Anganwadi helpers, 4) special visits to the homes of the children discharged from Malnutrition Treatment Centre (MTC) and involvement of community volunteers. Children falling in Grade III and IV of malnutrition must be monitored for signs and symptoms of infections and referred to Public Health Centres, First Referral Unit (FRU) or Community Health Centres for treatment. Unfortunately the ANMs who are supposed to be working through the Anganwadi in Bhaisa are negligent in service. Such practice is not limited to Bhaisa.

Neglect of duty and lack of proper accountability of the primary health care staff is quite common in India. The AHRC in the past has reported several cases where poor children from rural background have lost their life due to the neglect of the primary health care staff in India. This partially explains why one in every third malnourished child lives in India.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh to express your concern in this case. The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Food calling for an 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: Three-year-old Dalit boy may die soon from acute starvation in Jaunpur

Name of the victim: Mukesh, aged three years, son of Mr. Ram Lagan, residing at Bhaisa village, Kerakat administrative block, Jaunpur district, Uttar Pradesh
Location: Bhaisa village, Kerakat administrative block, Jaunpur district Uttar Pradesh

I am writing to express my concern about the case of Mukesh, a three-year-old boy from the Chamar community living in Bhaisa village of Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh. I am informed that Mukesh is suffering from Grade IV malnutrition, which is life threatening.

I am also informed that since the family is poor Mukesh's father Ram Lagan is finding it difficult to take care of Mukesh. I am informed that as of now Mukesh is under the care of a local human rights group the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR). Mukesh was admitted at the Pandit Din Dayal Upadhaya Hospital on 13 November 2007. In the absence of any further assistance to Mukesh by the state by way of specialist medical assistance, it is likely that Mukesh might die soon.

I am also informed that the staffs at the state sponsored welfare centres in Bhaisa are not doing their job and have thus far ignored Mukesh's case that has led to this serious situation. I am also informed that Mukesh's siblings are not able to attend schools since the family could not provide for their education.

I therefore urge you to immediately intervene in this case and make sure that Mukesh and his family will get immediate assistance. I also urge you to ensure that Mukesh gets adequate medical care until his situation improves and become stable.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE ALSO SEND A COPY OF YOUR LETTER TO:

1. The District Magistrate
Collectorate, Jaunpur
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: +91 5452 260223
Email: dmvar@up.nic.in 

2. Mr. Indrajeet Saroj
Minister for Social Welfare
Mukhya Bhavan
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA

3. Dr. Syeda Saiyidain Hameed
Member, Planning Commission, Government of India
Yogna Bhavan, Sansad Margh, New Delhi - 110001
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 23096699
Email: s.hameed@nic.in

4. Mr. John Mathews
Chief Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department
Room 81, Civil Secretariat, Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA

5. The Secretariat
The Right to Food Campaign – India
C/o, PHRN,
5 A, Jungi House
Shahpur Jat, New Delhi-110049
INDIA
Email: righttofood@gmail.com 

6. The 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 

7. The 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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