Politicians play blame game as activists raise concern

The starvation deaths of three sisters in east Delhi on Tuesday led to a political blame game on Thursday, with the BJP in the Centre blaming the Aam Aadmi Party government, which acknowledged there had been a failure of the system.

A day after the preliminary post-mortem reports of the children found the cause of death to be starvation or malnutrition, Thursday morning started with politicians from across party lines making a beeline for Mandawali, the area where the family lived.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia visited the area Sub-Divisional Magistrate’s office, while BJP MPs Manoj Tiwari and Maheish Girri, Leader of the Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta and Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken were among those who visited the neighbourhood of the victims.

“It is a matter of great concern for all of us that three children from the same family have died in the Capital of the country, whether it is due to poverty or hunger or any other reason,” said Mr. Sisodia, who met the girls’ mother at the SDM’s office.

Since the girls’ mother was found to be suffering from mental health issues, Mr. Sisodia said the government would help her get medical attention and also provide immediate monetary aid of Rs. 25,000.

Terming the incident a “big failure of our system”, Mr. Sisodia said he had asked the Planning Department to ensure that the details of the health conditions and education of all children were maintained in a record.

Meanwhile, the BJP hit out at the AAP government.

“The incidence of #StarvationDeaths of three sisters in Mandavali is reprehensible. It is the result of failure of #AAP government to address basic issues of people of Delhi. Where have all the welfare funds gone, if it is not reaching the beneficiaries? [sic]” Union Minister and BJP MP from Chandni Chowk Harsh Vardhan said in a tweet.

Ration card problems

Mr. Tiwari and Mr. Girri met the victims’ mother and offered her Rs. 50,000 assistance. Mr. Girri wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking the dismissal of the AAP government. Mr. Gupta, who visited the neighbourhood, said many of the residents complained about difficulties in getting ration cards made.

The Delhi Congress blamed both the AAP government and the BJP government at the Centre for the incident.

Mr. Maken said the tragedy could have been averted had the AAP government strengthened the Public Distribution System, the Mid-day Meal Scheme in schools and its Mohalla Clinics. He added that the Centre was equally responsible as it had been unable to provide employment and improve the PDS.

As politicians passed the buck, activists of the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan raised concerns about the incident. In a statement, the group said, “These starvation deaths highlight the alarming situation of distress and food insecurity in the capital of India. Immediate steps must be taken by the Delhi government and the Central government.”

The group said there was an urgent need to set up community kitchens, make the PDS universal and provide eggs, fruits and milk to children to children in schools and anganwadi centres.

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

(With PTI inputs)

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