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Delhi starvation deaths turned into political slugfest, focus on right to food

The horrific deaths taking place in Delhi came as a big shock with the state's per capita income of Rs 3.29 lakh being the second highest in the country and nearly three times of the national average.

Reported by: PTI, New Delhi [ Published on: July 26, 2018 21:02 IST ]

Delhi starvation deaths turned into political slugfest, focus on right to food

A political slugfest broke out today over the starvation deaths of three minors including a toddler in the national capital, with the BJP-led central government attacking the Kejriwal dispensation for the incident, which has yet again put the spotlight on lack of basic needs for a large section of the society.

The horrific deaths taking place in Delhi came as a big shock with the state's per capita income of Rs 3.29 lakh being the second highest in the country and nearly three times of the national average.

Even as the police today formed teams to trace the father of the three girls who died in East Delhi's Mandawali area on Tuesday, the issue also resonated in Parliament, where the BJP members attacked the AAP government alleging that a "ration" scam in Delhi was resulting in subsidised grains not reaching the poor.

The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said the Centre has ordered an inquiry into the deaths.

Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the shocking incident was a result of the "biggest failure of system" and asked the Directorate of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) to submit details of concerned officials who had responsibility of keeping record of people living in the area and also fix their accountability.

The girls, aged eight, four and two years, were brought to a hospital by their mother and a friend at around 1 pm on Tuesday, and the hospital authorities had later informed police about their deaths. The initial postmortem report said that the girls died due to "malnourishment/starvation and its complications.

A second second autopsy was conducted at GTB Hospital that found no injury marks, with doctors saying "It looked like a typical case of malnutrition, dishevelled, monkey-like face, no trace of fat in the bodies."

"And when the body was opened, stomach, bladder and rectum were all found empty," Medical Superintendent of LBS Hospital, Dr Amita Saxena said adding they did not suspect any foul play like poisoning as there was "no food in the stomach".

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has sought a report by tomorrow from Delhi Police and the district administration in connection with the deaths.

The Commission has issued notices to the Manadavali police station Station House Officer and the Sub-divisional Magistrate of Preet Vihar (East District). It has also sought a factual report along with complete details of circumstances that led to the deaths along with the health status of the parents.

In its notice to the police, the women's panel has asked for a status report on the investigation and a copy of the post mortem. "The incident is extremely shocking and tragic. The Commission has instituted an inquiry into the matter," the notice said.

Meanwhile, Sisodia visited the SDM office in East Delhi where he met girls' mother. "I want to say that be it girls have died of starvation, poverty or illness, it is the biggest failure of our system," Sisodia told reporters here.

He directed the planning department of Delhi government to conduct 100 per cent census on the status of children and people, including their living condition, education and chronic disease, age factor among others.

Hitting out at ICDS which comes under the Union Ministry of Women & Child Development, Sisodia said the Integrated Child Development Services was formed to help children faced with hunger and starvation so that government come forward and provide a help to them in the country.

He said there are anganwadi and ICDS officers in Delhi as well, but the "system has failed somewhere". 

"I have directed the directorate of ICDS to submit his report till the evening about concerned officials who had responsibility of keeping record of people living in the area and also fix their accountability. If family's details were in the record, what were concerned officials doing?" he said.

Sisodia said the Delhi government has decided to provide Rs 25,000 to the family. 

Meanwhile raising the matter in Lok Sabha, BJP leaders from Delhi -- Ramesh Bidhuri, Parvesh Verma and Maheish Girri -- alleged there was a "ration scam" in Delhi that was stopping subsidised grains from reaching the poor. 

The area where the tragedy occurred falls in the constituency of Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister, Bidhuri said while attacking the AAP government.

Congress' Deepender Hooda said both the city government and the Union government were to be blamed for the deaths. 

During the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra sought to know whether the government has taken note of the serious incident.

Minister of State for Planning Rao Inderjit Singh said the incident was a very "unfortunate" but it needed to be seen under what circumstances the deaths took place and whether starvation was the reason.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said it was a very serious matter and the Rajya Sabha members would seek a discussion on the issue.

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken visited the area and said the incident raises several questions as to what happened to the 'Aam Aadmi canteen' that was announced with much fanfare and if the girl went to school, why did she not get the midday meal.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said it is a matter of "shame" for the AAP government and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal that three little girls died due to hunger in Delhi.

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