UPDATE (India): Post mortem confirms girl dies from acute malnutrition 

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that a post mortem report on a two-year-old girl, whom we reported to have died on November 7, confirms that her death was due to acute malnutrition and illnesses closely associated to this. After the victim’s death, however, the local police authorities have threatened her father and falsely accused a villager who is assisting the victim’s family of murder.


In our previous appeal (AHRC-HAC-010-2008), we have already reported that two-year-old Namita Pal died from acute malnutrition and other illnesses closely associated to this. Her family have also been struggling to survive after the family’s mud hut where they had been living was demolished by a village head in Gokulpur village. They demanded food and housing yet the local government have neglected them.

According to the recent information from the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), a local human rights group, the post mortem report No. 1554/08 confirms Namita’s death was caused by acute malnutrition and that she developed septicaemia, an illness causing lung infection; and severe anaemia, an illness caused by deficiency of haemoglobin in the blood, which resulted in her death.

Though Namita’s family has already been provided assistance by the local government after her death; however, none of the local authorities had been held to account for their negligence that resulted in her death.

Also, the Badagoan police are allegedly threatening Namita’s father, Mr. Doodh Nath Pal, and have falsely accused Mr. Umesh Rajbhar, a local person in the village who has since been assisting Doodh’s family, for the murder of a villager.

According to the PVCHR, the police have already filed a First Information Report (FIR) accusing Umesh of having been involved into the death of another villager; however, the villager’s death was actually caused by a snake bite according to villagers who had witnessed the incident.

The police threatened Doodh that they could put him into prison with fabricated charges after he made a written complaint to the local authorities in connection with the destruction of his mud hut by a village head. The complaint has included the Senior Officer (SO) of the Badagoan Police Station and it was also the latter who allegedly made threats on him.

Apart from Namita’s death, her other siblings, Soni, 14; Nathu, 8; and Kavita, 4 have also had to endure needless suffering due to their desperate living conditions. Their opportunity to have been able to go to school has also been deprived; thus, there have been pledges by private groups, instead of the government doing it, to help these children in their education for the next school year by providing financial support, particularly from a Swedish foundation for.


Until she died, Namita had never received any medical assistance from the local government. It is found that the Anganwadi Centre (AC) for Gokulpur village has either not made available or not provided her vaccine or food. No AC workers made visits to Namita’s house for medical check up, which also includes weighing, as part of their obligations to monitor the health condition of villagers there.

The AC has obligations to provide vaccine and food for the children under the age of six and to pregnant women. They are also required to report the health condition of the children regularly. However, this is health care that Namita has not been able to obtain despite having been admitted twice to the Varanasi district government hospital. It illuminates the fact that the public health system failed to save her life.

The utter neglect by public health care and local government has aggravated Namita’s health condition which eventually led to her needless death. Apart from her daughter’s death, Doodh also never received any response nor are his complaints acted upon in connection with the destruction of their mud hut.

Doodh had earlier made a complaint to the senior officer of the Badagoan Police, senior superintendent of the Varanasi, District Magistrate (DM) of Varanasi, Commissioner of Varanasi Division and the Inspector General of Varanasi Zone, but none of them took adequate action.

All forms of government scheme though, such as Indira Awas Yojana for housing, land acquisition for landless, Antyodaya ration card for food distribution for the poorest, a job card under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, and financial support had been implemented after Namita’s death.

However, neither the village head that destroyed had Namita family’s house nor the relevant government officials have been held to account for their action and their negligence resulting to the victim’s death. This has aggravated the obstacles of preventing hunger deaths in India.

Please write letters to the authorities mentioned below expressing your concern about Namita’s death and subsequently demand that those who neglected their duties resulting in her death be held to account. Any false charges the local police are attempting to file against the person helping Namita’s father should be rejected. Her father should also be afforded with protection due to threats made on him for complaining about the destruction of their house.

The AHRC has also written separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food calling for their intervention.



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Dear __________,

INDIA: Please call for responsibility and punishment regarding two year-old-girl's death due to malnutrition

Name of the victim who died of malnutrition
Namita Pal, two years of age; a resident of Gokulpur village, Harhuaa Post Office, under the jurisdiction of Badagoan Police, Pindra Block, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Responsible public servants and government authorities:
1. Mr. Shiv Shakti Singh, alias Rajan Singh, Village head of Gokulpur village: responsible for destroying the victim's house
2. Lekhpal, revenue officer for Gokulpur village: responsible for destroying the victim's house
3. Senior officer of the Badagoan Police Station, Varanasi district: responsible for threatening the deceased victim's father and trying to fabricate charge
4. Anganwari Center workers for Gokulpur village: responsible for health care of deceased Namita
Place of incident:
Gokulpur village, Harhuaa Post Office, under the jurisdiction of Badagoan Police, Pindra Block, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh

I am writing regarding the death of Namita Pal, a two year-old-girl. Her death has been confirmed to have been caused by acute malnutrition and other illnesses closely associated to malnutrition. Namita died on 6 November, three months after her family's mud hut had been destroyed by a village head and a revenue officer (Lekhpal).

I am aware that Namita's health deteriorated as she had to live without proper shelter or food. At the time of her sickness, she has not been afforded any public health care or food from the Child Care Center (Anganwadi Center) or the public health institution.

I have recently learnt that the post mortem report No. 1554/08 on Namita's death confirmed that she died from septicemia caused by infected lungs and severe anemia—illnesses closely associated with acute malnutrition.

Also I have learnt that the local police have been continuously threatening Namita's father, Doodh and have even falsely accused Mr. Umesh Rajbhar, a local villager supporting her family, of having been involved into the death of another villager. However, I have learnt that the said villager was not murdered as the police claim but rather died from a snake bite.

In a previous report, I was informed that none of the government authorities had responded to Doodh's complaint regarding the destruction of his house by a village head and of the authorities’ failure to ensure the victim's family are afforded with food rations. Even when Namita's health condition had become worse, no government authorities provided her assistance.

Had Namita's death not been reported, the other government programmes and assistance they require would have not reached her family. It is disappointing that this girl had to needlessly die and her plight had to be exposed before the concerned authorities took appropriate action. This, however, does not exonerate them from any responsibility for their neglect which resulted in her death.

I am aware that the negligence of the government authorities and the failure to have those responsible for the suffering, for instance, those responsible for the destruction of the victim family's house, is the very obstacle preventing other hunger related deaths of children in India.

I therefore urge for your adequate intervention to once again ensure the relevant authorities, in this case, the village head, the revenue officer and the Senior Officer of the police are held to account.

Also, please ensure the effective functioning of the public health system, such as child care centre, primary health centre. The government hospital must ensure it provides health care and services that reaches the poor and the needy so as to avoid, if not prevent, hunger related deaths in the future.

The victim's father, Doodh should be afforded with adequate protection to ensure his safety and security as a result of the threats made on him; and that the person helping them, Umesh, should also be given adequate legal assistance he needs.

Should there be charges filed on Umesh they must be withdrawn unconditionally. Any attempts to lay false charges on Umesh for his role of providing assistance to the victim's family cannot be tolerated.

Yours sincerely,


1. Justice Mr. Balakrishnan
Chief Justice of India
Through the Office of the Registrar General 
Supreme Court of India
1 Tilak Marg, New Delhi
Fax: +91 11 2338 3792
E-mail: supremecourt@nic.in 

2. Ms. Meira Kumar
Minister, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment
Sardar Patel Bhawan
Sansad Marg
New Delhi - 110 001
Fax: + 91 11 2374 2133
Email: ddpg2-arpg@nic.in

3. The Director
Department of Women Welfare & Child Development,
Government of Uttar Pradesh,
Jawahar Bhawan, Ashok Marg,
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
Fax: +91 522 228 6140

4. Director General of Police
1-Tilak Marg, Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh
Fax: + 91 522 220 6120 / 522 220 6174
E-mail: police@up.nic.in 

5. Additional Director General of Police (ADG) Human Rights Division
1Tilak Marg Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh
E-mail: humanrightshq@up.nic.in

6. Ms. Mayawati
Chief Minister
Chief Minister's Secretariat
Uttar Pradesh
Fax: + 91 522 223 0002 / 522 223 9234
Email: csup@up.nic.in

7. The Commissioner
Varanasi Division
Kutchahry, Varanasi
Uttar Pradesh
Fax: +91 542 228 2345
Email: commvar@up.nic.in

8. The Country Director
World Food Programme
2 Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi 110057
Fax: +91 112 615 0019
Email: wfp.newdelhi@wfp.org

73 Lodi Estates
New Delhi 110 003
Fax: + 91 11 2462 7521 / 11 2469 1410
E-mail: newdelhi@unicef.org

Thank you.

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

Document Type : Hunger Alert Update
Document ID : AHRC-HAU-002-2008
Countries : India,
Issues : Corruption, Land rights, Poverty & adequate standard of living, Right to food,