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INDIA: A three-year-old girl may die from acute starvation in Varanasi

Gudia is three and half-year old and is the daughter of Mr. Sanjay Kumar Gaur. Kumar's family resides at Soyepur Madwa in Harahua block of Varanasi district. Gudia was born under weighed and was blind at birth. Gudia is the youngest and the third child in the family. The family belongs to the Gaur community in Uttar Pradesh. The Gaur being a scheduled caste community, they are considered untouchable by the dominant upper caste Hindus in India.

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME

Hunger Alert Case: AHRC-HAC-006-2008

6 May 2008
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INDIA: A three-year-old girl may die from acute starvation in Varanasi

ISSUES: Right to food; caste based discrimination; corruption; lack of government support
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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), a local human rights organisation working in Uttar Pradesh state, regarding the case of Gudia who may die from acute malnourishment in Varanasi. The case depicts once more the complete failure of the government programmes in addressing dire needs of the lower caste communities in India.

CASE DETAILS:

Gudia is three and half-year old and is the daughter of Mr. Sanjay Kumar Gaur. Kumar's family resides at Soyepur Madwa in Harahua block of Varanasi district. Gudia was born under weighed and was blind at birth. Gudia is the youngest and the third child in the family. The family belongs to the Gaur community in Uttar Pradesh. The Gaur being a scheduled caste community, they are considered untouchable by the dominant upper caste Hindus in India.

Gudia was not given any immunisation, which otherwise is provided by the government for the newly born children in India. The Auxiliary Nursing Mother (ANM) responsible for Soyepur Madwa, Ms. Urmila demands money from every parent for preparing an immunisation card that is to be used as a record for immunisation. Since Gudia's parents did not have the money to spare to bribe the ANM to get the required service for Gudia. Gudia is also not enrolled at the local Anganwadi Centre (child care centre) due to the corrupt practices of Urmila.

On April 23, a staff of the PVCHR, Ms. Sushila Devi, came to know Gudia's situation. Devi, through the PVCHR got Gudia admitted at the Pandit Deen Daya Upadhaya Hospital in Varanasi for treatment. At the hospital Dr. S. P. Singh examined Gudia and recorded her weight, which was only three-and-half kilogrammes. This is Grade IV malnutrition according to the medical standards. This situation is extremely life threatening. As of now Gudia is receiving treatment at the hospital.

Gudia's father Kumar was earlier working in a power loom. Due to the downfall of the weaving industry and due to the continuous interruption in power supply in the state and in Varanasi in particular, Kumar gets only 10-12 days of work every month. From this Kumar can earn only about Rupees 350 (USD 8) a month. With this money Kumar cannot find food to his entire family. Gudia's mother is working as a maid servant in a house in the village, with which she earns a pittance.

Kumar's family is classified as one belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) family. Due to this the family also is issued a BPL card bearing number 17180. This card will help the family to obtain rationed food grains at subsidised price. However, whatever ration is obtained is shared with Kumar's brother's family who also lives in similar circumstances. Kumar's brother's family does not have a BPL card.

Gudia's elder siblings were earlier attending school, but had to discontinue studies to earn some money to keep the family alive and also to care for Gudia.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
The AHRC in the past has reported cases of starvation and malnutrition from India, of which the cases reported from Uttar Pradesh documented by the PVCHR depicts a connection between caste based discrimination, corruption and the neglect practiced by the state government authorities in the state making a fatal dent upon the Dalit community in that state.

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a sister organisation of the AHRC has also made interventions at the UN regarding this issue. For further reading please see: AL-011-2007 and A Supplementary Document concerning Caste Based Discrimination in India submitted by the ALRC to the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination - March 2007. (Please see pages 11 - 12)

The AHRC has been calling upon the Government of India to address this problem. So far other than for random acts of halfhearted attempts by the state as well as central government, often initiated for political and other personal gains of persons in the government, nothing much has been done by the government in addressing this deep-rooted problem.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please send a letter to the authorities mentioned below expressing your concern about this case and calling for an immediate investigation in order to punish the alleged perpetrators. The AHRC has written a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food calling for an intervention into this case.

For further information concerning this case and to know about the current condition of Gudia please contact Ms. Sruti Nagavanshi / Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, PVCHR, S A 4/2A, Daulatpur, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India Telephone + 91 9935599333. Email: pvchr@yahoo.com 

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Please save the life of Gudia, a three-year-old child facing acute starvation

Details of victim: Gudia, aged three years, daughter of Mr. Sanjay Kumar Gaur, residing at Soyepur Madwa in Harahua block of Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Name of alleged perpetrator: Ms. Urmila, Auxiliary Nursing Mother (ANM) responsible for Soyepur Madwa, Harahua block of Varanasi district
Place of incident: Soyepur Madwa, Harahua block of Varanasi district

I am writing to you to express my concern regarding the case of Gudia, a three-year-old girl currently undergoing treatment for acute malnutrition at the Pandit Deen Daya Upadhaya Hospital in Varanasi. I am informed that at the time of admission, that is 23rd April 2008, Gudia was suffering from Grade IV malnutrition.

I am informed that Gudia's family belongs to the Gaur community in Uttar Pradesh which is considered as untouchable by the dominant upper caste Hindus in India.

I am also informed that Gudia was not given any immunisation, which otherwise is provided by the government for the newly born children in India. It is reported that the Auxiliary Nursing Mother (ANM) responsible for Soyepur Madwa, Ms. Urmila demands money from every parent for preparing an immunisation card that is to be used as a record for immunisation. Since Gudia's parents did not have the money to spare to bribe the ANM to get the required service for Gudia. I am also aware that Gudia is also not enrolled at the local Anganwadi Centre (child care centre) due to the corrupt practices of Urmila.

I am informed that on 23 April, a staff of the PVCHR, Ms. Sushila Devi, came to know Gudia's situation and got Gudia admitted at the Pandit Deen Daya Upadhaya Hospital in Varanasi for treatment. It is reported that at the hospital Dr. S. P. Singh examined Gudia and recorded her weight, which was only three-and-half kilos. This is Grade IV malnutrition according to the medical standards which is life threatening. As of now Gudia is receiving treatment at the hospital.

I am informed that Gudia's family is poor that they cannot afford to treat Gudia any further at the hospital. Gudia's father Kumar can earn only about Rupees 350 (USD 8) a month. With this money Kumar cannot find food to his entire family. Gudia's mother is working as a maid servant in a house in the village, with which she earns a pittance.

Even though Kumar's family is classified as one belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) family the food subsidies the family receive appear to be not sufficient to keep the family alive. Gudia's elder siblings were earlier attending school, but had to discontinue studies to earn some money to keep the family alive and also to care for Gudia.

I am concerned about this case and request you to immediately intervene in this case. I request you to take all necessary steps to ensure that an enquiry is ordered into the conduct of Ms. Urmila, the ANM responsible for Soyepur Madwa and take necessary actions against the ANM if the ANM is found to be engaged in corruption.

I further request you to take all necessary steps so that the family receives urgent help and that Gudia is provided with the best possible treatment.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Ms. Mayawati
Chief Minister
Chief Minister's Secretariat
Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: + 91 522 223 0002 / 223 9234
E-mail: csup@up.nic.in

2. Mr. Ratan Lal Ahirwar
Minister of Dr. Ambedkar Gramin Samgra Vikas Vibhag
Through the office of the Secretary to the Government
Uttar Pradesh State Government
5th Floor – Lal Bahadur Sastri Bhavan
Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh
INDIA

3. Dr. Buta Singh
Chairperson
National Commission for Scheduled Castes
11-A, Teen Murti Marg
New Delhi - 110011
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 24632298
E-mail: chairman-ncsc@nic.in 

4. Ms. Meira Kumar
Minister
Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment
Sardar Patel Bhawan
Sansad Marg
New Delhi - 110 001
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 23742133
E-mail: ddpg2-arpg@nic.in

5. Regional Director
World Food Programme
Unit No. 2, 7th Floor, Wave Place Building
55 Wireless Road
Lumpini, Patumwan
Bangkok 10330
THAILAND
Fax: +66 2 655 4413

6. Country Director
World Food Programme
2 Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi 110057
INDIA
Fax: +91 112 615 0019
E-mail: wfp.newdelhi@wfp.org

Thank you.

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

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