INDIA: Children going blind due to starvation in Uttar Pradesh state
September 21, 2004
HUNGER ALERT HUNGER ALERT HUNGER ALERT HUNGER ALERT HUNGER ALERT
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM
21 September 2004
HA-03-2004: INDIA: Children going blind due to starvation in Uttar Pradesh state
INDIA: Severe malnutrition, government inaction
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), India about the case of two young children suffering serious illnesses due to starvation.
The AHRC urges you to write to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh to ensure that the two children are restored to full health at state expense, and for an investigation into the circumstances of their starvation and inaction of local authorities.
Urgent Appeals Desk--Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
On 27 August 2004, staff of the PVCHR visited Vatsalaya Chikitsalaya children's hospital in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh state, India and saw two Dalit children, Chandan and Malaka suffering from acute illnesses as a result of severe malnutrition. Chandan is eight-years' old, but was found to weigh a mere nine kilograms. His eyes were not opening due to a disease brought on by acute vitamin A deficiency, and the doctors examining him were uncertain about the condition of his eyes. Malaka is six and was found to be weighing eight kilograms. She was suffering from anemia, and also had an eye condition due to vitamin A deficiency. Both children have respiratory infections.
The father of Chandan and Malaka, Umashankar Ram, had two years previously lost his income due to the collapse of the local textiles industry in his area. He then worked as a rickshaw puller. Although he was identified as Below Poverty Line, and issued a card by the district authorities that would entitle him to purchase rations at lower cost, he could not even afford to buy them at the discounted rate. In August, he met with his village head, Lalman Pal, and village secretary, but they did not give any help, nor inform the district administration.
After visiting the hospital, the PVCHR representatives sent a petition to key persons in government and other agencies. Please support their petition, and the efforts of the doctors to save the lives of these two children, by also sending a letter to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh on this case. A sample letter follows.
Dear Mr Yadav
Re: Two children suffering severe illnesses due to starvation in Varanasi
I am deeply disturbed to hear of two children suffering from severe illnesses due to acute malnutrition in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
According to the information I have received, the two children have been receiving treatment in Vatsalaya Chikitsalaya children's hospital in Varanasi. The children, Chandan and Malaka, who are Dalits, are suffering from acute illnesses as a result of severe malnutrition, in particular, protein deficiency. Chandan is eight-years' old, but has been found to weigh a mere nine kilograms. His eyes have not been opening due to a disease brought on by acute vitamin A deficiency, and the doctors examining him have been uncertain about the condition of his eyes. Malaka is six and has been found to weigh eight kilograms. She has been suffering anemia, and also has had an eye condition due to vitamin A deficiency. Both children have had respiratory infections. Their father, Umashankar Ram, is said to have lost his livelihood since the local textiles industry collapsed. Although he was identified as Below Poverty Line, and issued a ration card by the district authorities, he could not even afford food under that scheme. In August, he is said to have met with his village head, Lalman Pal, and village secretary, but they did not give any help, nor inform the district administration about the starvation of his children.
I would like to remind you that you have obligations under international and national law to all persons residing in the state of Uttar Pradesh to respect, protect and fulfil the right to food. I therefore urge you to ensure that these two children are given all of the care they need at state expense so that they are restored to full health. Furthermore, I urge you to order a thorough investigation of the case, to establish the prevailing conditions in the children's village with a view to preventing further starvation among children and other residents there. Finally, I urge you to order a separate investigation into the alleged negligence of the village authorities, and any other concerned state officers, with a view to holding them liable for their breach of these obligations to the two children concerned. In this regard, I would stress that the right to food can be made effective only through enforcement of the right by way of criminal action against persons or agencies responsible for violations.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh
Chief Minister's Secretariat
Fax: + 91-522-2230002/2239234
PLEASE SEND COPIES TO:
2. Justice S S Rajendra Babu
Chief Justice of India
Supreme Court of India
New Delhi 110001
3. Justice A P Mishra
Uttar Pradesh Human Rights Commission
6-A Kalidass Marg
27 Park Road
Tel: + 91 532-2726742
Fax: + 91 532-2726743
4. Mr. Jean Ziegler
UNCHR Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
c/o Mr. Carlos Villan Duran
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Rue des Paquis 52, Geneva
Fax: 41 22 9179010
5. Mr Anthony Banbury
World Food Programme
Unit No. 2, 7th Floor
Wave Place Building
55 Wireless Road
Email: Anthony.email@example.com or Bkk.firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Mr Pedro Medrano Rojas
World Food Programme
2 Poorvi Marg,
New Delhi 110057
Urgent Appeals Programme--Hunger Alert
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)