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

Rema Musahar is the daughter of Ms. Lalmani and Mr. Ashok 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

31 July 2007
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HA-008-2007: INDIA: Two-year-old girl facing imminent death from starvation in Raitara village of Varanasi 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 its local partner the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights [PVCHR], a human rights organisation based in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh regarding the case of Rema Musahar, a two-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. Rema at the age of two weighs only five kilo. Musahar is a scheduled caste and considered untouchable in the caste Hindu society of Uttar Pradesh.

CASE DETAILS:

Rema Musahar is the daughter of Ms. Lalmani and Mr. Ashok 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 Rema or her parents would not benefit from it since the family does not have a ration card.

Rema's parents cannot afford to provide Rema any medical assistance since they are extremely poor. The family also does not have a ration card that would help them to find subsidized food grains from the ration shop. However, Rema's parents took Rema to the nearby public health centre. There the doctor who attended Rema informed her parents that Rema is suffering from Grade IV malnutrition. The doctor also advised Rema's parents to provide her immediate medical attention, failing which Rema might die. Rema's parents however could not provide any further medical assistance to Rema since they do not have any money.

Raitara Musahar ghetto does not have any Anganwadi. Anganwadi is a centre where a government employee attends to children and keeps records of their health conditions. The Anganwadi is under the Integrated Rural Development Scheme (IRDS). The nearest Anganwadi for the village is located where the upper caste people stay, where the Musahars do not have permission to access.

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, particularly from Raitara. For further information please see HA-006-2007 and HA-007-2007.

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

Name of the victim: Rema Musahar, aged two years, daughter of Ms Lalmani, residing at Raitara village, Pindra block, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Place of incident:  Raitara village, Varansi district

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

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

I am informed that the village head Mr. Rajkumar Yadav is keeping Rema'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 Rajkumar has prevented any government facilities to reach the Raitara Musahar ghetto to prevent the Musahars from benefiting from it. I am informed that for this, Rajkumar 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 Rema 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. 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
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
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
Fax: + 41 22 917 9006

Thank you.

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

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