Sunday, August 06, 2006

INDIA: Rights groups blame local officials for starving baby deaths

INDIA: Rights groups blame local officials for starving baby deaths


INDIA: Rights groups blame local officials for starving baby deaths

(Hong Kong, July 28, 2006) Human rights groups on Friday blamed local government officials in India's northern Uttar Pradesh state for the starvation deaths of babies under their administration.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued a "hunger alert" appeal on the July 28 death of 9-month-old Seema Musahar in Belwa village, Varanasi after local officials had ignored the plight of her family, despite repeated pleas and the earlier death of her grandfather also from malnutrition.

The Hong Kong-based regional group accused the local officials of deliberately ignoring starving people in Belwa because of "caste hatred". The Musahar community is traditionally a so-called "untouchable" group.

"The district magistrate of Varanasi, Rajiv Agarwal, is directly responsible for this child's death," Bijo Francis, a programme officer of the AHRC who visited the affected area, said.

"I was shocked to find that people everywhere are on the verge of starvation, some said to be cooking only once every four or five days, despite the conditions in Belwa being known to the local officials and general public," Francis said.

"There must be immediate action to prevent further deaths and to inquire into the willful negligence of the feudal landlords, including Mr. Agarwal, who are running the local administration," he urged.

Francis is visiting the area together with staff of the local People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR), which on Friday also sent a letter to the National Human Rights Commission of India expressing its anger at the "inhuman behaviour" of the district administrators.

"Who are accountable for this death? Earlier in [the] same village there had been two more deaths due to malnutrition. We wrote to you but found no change [in the situation]", Lenin Raghuvanshi, PVCHR convenor, said in the letter.

"How many deaths do [the local officials] want to see in this deprived and marginalized village?" Raghuvanshi asked.

"This time please take necessary steps and actions... on these deaths," he urged.

Meanwhile, the executive director of the AHRC wrote an open letter to the district magistrate, asking whether he had "anything to share by way of law, justice and humanism" to help the affected families.

"Whether or not you have any morality, human decency or capacity to recognise your obligations is what you must now prove," Basil Fernando said in the letter.

Fernando informed the district magistrate that the AHRC was taking the case worldwide, to UN officials, the media and other rights groups.

The AHRC had previously issued a number of appeals on cases of starvation deaths in Varanasi but has continued to receive reports of further hunger and government inaction.

It has also issued appeals on orders to arrest members of PVCHR made by the district magistrate in response to the appeals on hunger and starvation in the region.

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About AHRC The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Posted on 2006-07-28
Back to [2006 AHRC Press Releases]

1 comment:

abz said...

hey am very much intrested in wat u doing..
my namez anu n m frm mumbai juhu ..pls leme know if i can add in my efforts in watever u need