Forgotten again: 3 kids starve to death, fury gives way to apathy -Somreet Bhattacharya
-The Times of India
NEW DELHI: A one-room house near Pandit Chowk in Mandawali has been locked ever since three children—Mansi (8), Sikha (4) and Parul (2)—starved to death here. The tragedy that shook this locality in July is still discussed, but the tide of strong emotions has now ebbed.
“Nothing has changed. No new anganwadi centre has come up, nor did anyone ask about the condition of other kids living here. The drains still overflow and there is muck all over. Government officials and politicians visited the area a few times to give assurances but nothing changed,” said Dileep, a rickshaw-puller.
While police are still trying to trace the father, Mangal, the mother, Beena, returned to her village in West Bengal a few months later. The final inquiry into the deaths identified extreme malnutrition as the cause. Neighbours said the children would crawl out of their room to defecate or vomit in the last few days of their lives as they were too weak to go to the toilet. Their mother too would lie down through the day.
Mangal used to run a tea stall. But he had to shut it down as he spent all his earnings on liquor. “His liquor addiction meant no one would rent out even a rickshaw to him. This reduced him to a state of penury, which ultimately harmed his family,” said Satyam, a friend of his. Some locals knew that the children were going without food since they kept begging at the shops. “Often we would give them some food, but feeding three children every day is difficult. We used to rebuke Mangal after which he got them something from the shops nearby. Most of the time they were unfed,” recalled Rita Devi, a community head.
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