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UPDATE (India): Alina Shahin passed away yesterday

Alina Sahin [picture 1] was 18 months old and the youngest daughter of Mr. Ansar Ahmed. Ansar has two daughters and a son. Ansar's wife died six months before and Alina is taken care of by her paternal grandmother. The AHRC had issued a hunger alert on September 3, 2007 expressing concern over Alina's situation. For further details please see HA-011-2007.

UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME

Update on Hunger Alert

14 September 2007

[RE: HA-011-2007: INDIA: A 18-month-old girl may die soon from starvation in Uttar Pradesh]
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HU-004-2007: INDIA: Alina Shahin passed away yesterday

INDIA: CONTINUING STARVATION DEATHS IS A SHAME ON INDIA
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and its local partner the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights [PVCHR], a human rights organisation based in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh regrets to inform you the death of Alina Shahin, an 18-month-old baby from starvation and malnourishment. Alina was a resident of Mahmoodpur ghetto in Lohta Panchayath of Kashi Vidhya Peed Block in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh state.

CASE DETAILS:

Alina Sahin [picture 1] was 18 months old and the youngest daughter of Mr. Ansar Ahmed. Ansar has two daughters and a son. Ansar's wife died six months before and Alina is taken care of by her paternal grandmother. The AHRC had issued a hunger alert on September 3, 2007 expressing concern over Alina's situation. For further details please see HA-011-2007.

The AHRC and the PVCHR had written to the state and central government authorities in India about Alina's situation. But the government failed to intervene and did nothing to save Alina's life. Alina's death is a shame on India and its administration.

India is rich in its food supplies and its government sponsored granaries are flooded with food grains. The country also has a food distribution system, which was allegedly streamlined a few years back in order to reach the poorest of the poor. The food distribution system however depends upon the respective state government for proper implementation. For the past few years the AHRC has been expressing its concern about the widespread corruption in the food distribution system in India. Alina's death is a sad reminder of this failing system.

Alina's parents are from the handloom weaving industry of Uttar Pradesh. The handloom weaving industry across India, particularly in states like Uttar Pradesh is now dead for all practical purposes,that the weavers and their families who once led a moderately good life are now forced to take up menial jobs for survival. Alina's death also symbolises the fate of the weaving industry in India.

Apart from the finite nuances of a dying industry and the complexities of import and export policies, in plain and simple language, Alina's death is the result of criminal neglect by the state government to address poverty in various section of the society. Acute poverty and deaths from starvation are not reported across the spectrum in the Indian society. It is only reported from select minority communities, tribes and the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe.

Every case of starvation death is an indicator of the failure of the respective district administration and the neglect of the state government to address it. The PVCHR and the AHRC had written specific letters to the state government and the District Magistrate calling for urgent action in Alina's case. The AHRC and the PVCHR had also reported that the Auxiliary Nursing Mother [a state government employee] who must be concerned about the welfare of children within her jurisdiction has failed to take action in Alina's case.

The AHRC and PVCHR had also written to the District Magistrate calling for the Magistrate's urgent intervention in Alina's case. None of these requests were heard by the government or its officers. These officers must be held responsible for Alina's death. The AHRC and the PVCHr wonders how these government officers can sleep while children die from acute starvation within their jurisdiction.

Alina is not alone. There are several other children and families in the locality, in Lohta panchayat of Varanasi district, who are facing similar situations. The PVCHR is gathering further information regarding these children and will shortly inform you.

Alina's case is a typical example that better explains the condition of handloom weavers in Uttar Pradesh. For further information regarding the condition of handloom weavers in that state please see HA-12-2005AS-172-2007 and UG-003-2007.

For further information regarding the failing handloom weaving industry in Uttar Pradesh, please contact Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, the PVCHR, SA4/2A, Daulatpur, Varanasi – 221002, Uttar Pradesh, INDIA. Telephone +91-9935599333. Email: pvchr@yahoo.com 

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh so that similar deaths do not occur in the state anymore. Stern action must be taken against the District Magistrate of Varanasi who has demonstrated continuing neglect in job and responsibilities for allowing starvation deaths in within the district after repeated calls for action. The AHRC is also writing to the Mr. Jean Zeigler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the 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: Please take immediate action to prevent further starvation deaths in Uttar Pradesh

Name of the victim: Alina Shahin, [deceased] aged 18 months, daughter of Ansar Ahmed, Mahmoodpur, Lohta Panchayath, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Location: Mahamoodpur ghetto in Lohta Panchayath, Kashi Vidhyapeed block, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh

I am disturbed to learn about the death of 18-month-old Alina Shahin who was suffering from Grade IV malnutrition in Mahmoodpur ghetto of Lohta Panchayath of Varanasi district. Alina was the youngest daughter of Mr. Ansar Ahmed, a handloom weaver who finds it difficult to find food for his family. Alina's mother passed away a few months before and she was taken care of by her grandmother.
 
Alina was taken to the local Anganwadi along with her sister seeking medical help. However, the Anganwadi teacher misbehaved with Alina's sister Khusnuma and started beating Khusnuma and ended-up seriously injuring Khusnuma. Alina and her sister did not receive any treatment or help from the Anganwadi. Alina was taken care of by the local human rights organisation, the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights. I am informed that Alina's case symbolises the living condition of millions of handloom weaver community in Uttar Pradesh.

I am informed that the Asian Human Rights Commission [AHRC] and the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights [PVCHR] had written to you a few days before asking for immediate intervention in Alina's case. I am also informed that the AHRC and the PVCHR had written to the District Magistrate of Varanasi calling for an urgent intervention in Alina's case. I am sorry to know that neither your office, nor that of the District Magistrate had taken any steps to prevent Alina's death. At this juncture I wonder how much more deaths will your government require to help the poor and starving communities within your jurisdiction.

I therefore urge you to take immediate steps so that you will intervene in this case too ensuring the safety of other children who are also facing similar situation in Lotha. I further urge you to take appropriate actions against the District Magistrate of Varanasi for neglect of duty. The state government must provide immediate help to Alina's family so that Alina's siblings do not face the same fate as Alina.

Yours truly,
___________

PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:

1. Ms. Veena Kumari
The 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. Secretariat
Right to Food Campaign – India
Q - 21-B, Top Floor, Jungpura Extn.
New Delhi – 110014
INDIA
Email: righttofood@gmail.com 

4. 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 

5. 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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