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Rediff.com  » News » Delhi starvation deaths: Girls had no food for 8-9 days, say docs

Delhi starvation deaths: Girls had no food for 8-9 days, say docs

July 26, 2018 21:23 IST

Deputy CM Manish Sisodia says it's the 'biggest failure of our system'.

IMAGE: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia with an official meets the mother of three girls who allegedly died of malnutrition at Mandawali, in New Delhi, on Thursday. Photograph: PTI Photo

Two days after three girls died in east Delhi's Mandawali area due to 'starvation', Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the deaths due to 'poverty and illness' was the 'biggest failure of our system'.

Sisodia said he has asked the Directorate of Integrated Child Development Services to submit details of the officials responsible for keeping records of the people living in the area, and fix 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 informed police about their deaths.

According to the initial post-mortem report, the girls died due to 'malnourishment/starvation and its complications'.

The three minor sisters were 'visibly malnourished' when they were brought to the hospital, and the autopsy showed that their 'stomachs were empty' as if they had not eaten for over a week, doctors said.

The hospital authorities later declared them brought dead.

"The post-mortem was conducted on Tuesday evening itself, and it was over by 6:30 pm. On Wednesday, they wanted a review, so chemical toxicology was also suggested. And, therefore, a medical board was set up and a second autopsy was conducted at the GTB Hospital," Medical Superintendent of LBS Hospital Dr Amita Saxena said.

Asked what the forensic experts found after the post-mortem, she said, "There were no injury marks. It looked like a typical case of malnutrition, with dishevelled, monkey-like faces and no trace of fat in the bodies."

"The stomach, bladder and rectum were found empty," she said about the post-mortem.

Saxena said the experts did not suspect any foul play, as there was 'no food in the stomach. It was as if they they had not eaten anything for 8-9 days'.

"We wanted a second opinion and be doubly sure, so a second autopsy was done at the GTB Hospital," she said.

"The deaths of these children is tragic and painful," she said.

The deputy chief minister visited the SDM office in east Delhi on Thursday and met the girls' mother, whose mental condition is not good.

"I want to say that be it due to starvation, poverty or illness, it is the biggest failure of our system," Sisodia told reporters.

He directed the planning department of the Delhi government to conduct a complete census of children in the national capital.

Criticising the ICDS, which comes under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Sisodia said that Integrated Child Development Services was formed to help children reeling under hunger and starvation.

In Delhi, too, there are anganwadi and ICDS officers, and 'our system has failed somewhere', he said.

"I have directed the Directorate of ICDS to submit his report till evening about the officials responsible for keeping records of the people living in the area and fix accountability.

"If the family's details were in the record, what were the officials concerned doing?... I have sought a report from the ICDS," he said.

The ICDS refused to comment on the matter.

The deputy chief minister said it's a very 'shocking incident' and the magisterial inquiry will bring the facts to the fore.

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

"I have been told that the girls ate food on Monday... The mother is admitted to a hospital. The best medical treatment will be provided to her. The government will provide all possible help to the family," he said.

Asked whether the government failed to provide ration to the family, Sisodia said, "In view of complaints about theft of ration, we are implementing the doorstep delivery of ration scheme which was being opposed by the L-G and the BJP."

"The easy way to stop ration theft is the doorstep delivery of ration," he added.

Meanwhile, the Centre has ordered an inquiry into the deaths, Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Thursday.

"We have ordered an enquiry into the matter," the consumer affairs, food and public distribution minister said today.

Police have also formed teams to trace the father of the three girls, a senior officer said.

The girls' father, a casual labourer, had left on the morning of July 24 for finding work and has not returned.

Police are on the lookout for him and he will be questioned in connection with the matter, he said.

A political slugfest broke out on Thursday over the deaths, with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government attacking the Arvind Kejriwal dispensation for the incident.

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has sought a report by Friday 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.

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 Aam Aadmi Party 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, Bahujan Samaj Party 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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