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4 deaths, no job, no medical care — the ‘malnutrition’-hit family behind NHRC notice to UP

After UP media highlighted plight of Harishchandra, a daily wager who lost 4 members of his family to 'malnutrition', NHRC sent the state govt a notice.

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New Delhi: Over the last six years, Harishchandra, 40, a daily wager in Uttar Pradesh’s Basti district, has lost four members of his family — reportedly due to malnutrition

Now, his only surviving child, a daughter, is also severely ailing. But with little money and “lack of proper medical facilities” in the district, Harishchandra has “nowhere to go”.

After the local media recently highlighted his plight, doctors at the local Community Health Centre referred his four-year-old daughter Vindhyavasini to the Basti District hospital. 

But doctors there advised him to admit her to the Gorakhpur Medical College. 

Harishchandra told ThePrint that an ambulance was provided to take his daughter to the Gorakhpur hospital but he was not briefed on how to get her admitted there. 

“The ambulance driver said that his responsibility was to take her to the gate of medical college only,” the daily wager said. “I didn’t have a single penny nor did I have acquaintances in Gorakhpur.”  

A disheartened Harishchandra then returned home to Ojhaganj village with his ailing daughter.  

The media reports, meanwhile, had another effect. 

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken note of Harishchandra’s case and it Wednesday issued a notice to the Yogi Adityanath government over dismal healthcare facilities in the district.   

The Basti district magistrate has, however, said the girl is mentally challenged and not malnourished. 

Also read: Modi’s POSHAN Abhiyan unlikely to make India malnutrition-free by 2022: CSE report 

Serious issue of human rights violation: NHRC

“The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report that a family residing at Ojhaganj village of Basti district in Uttar Pradesh has lost four of its members during the last six years due to malnutrition,” the commission said in a statement.

The NHRC has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, raised a “serious issue of human rights violation due to the lack of nutritional diet, adequate medical care and proper means of livelihood”.

Such reported tragic deaths, due to malnutrition and lack of other basic facilities are a matter of concern for it,” it said.

The Yogi government has been given four weeks to respond.

‘Not suffering from any kind of malnourishment’

Harishchandra said he sought financial assistance from the Basti district magistrate but failed to get any. 

When ThePrint tried to contact DM Ashutosh Ranjan Thursday, his staff said he was busy in a video conference with the CM. 

The DM later told news agency ANI that the family was now being provided all sorts of medical and healthcare facilities.  

He also said Harishchandra’s daughter is mentally challenged and not suffering from any kind of malnourishment. “She will get all the required treatment,” he said. 

Basti’s Additional Director (Health) C.K. Shahi told ThePrint that he was still trying to get all the facts related to the issue and as of now had no information about it. 

Also read: Now, Bangladesh set to steal march over India with GM rice that fights malnutrition

4 deaths in family due to ‘lack of treatment’

Harishchandra said he was married around 20 years ago and had migrated to Delhi, where he used to ply a cyclerickshaw in the Karol Bagh area. 

It was during this period that his wife delivered their first child but, the daily wager said, the girl was quite weak at birth and passed away in infancy a few years ago. 

The couple had since three more girls but his wife became severely ill. Due to the growing cost of treatment, Harishchandra returned to Basti.

“For some years, I continued to work as a daily wager in Basti but the income was never sufficient to meet the mounting household expenses,” he said.

During this period, two more of his girls died and his wife’s health deteriorated further.  

According to Harishchandra, opportunities for jobs had shrunk considerably in the last few months and he could not find a suitable employment despite his efforts. 

He said he tried to get his wife treated at the Community Health Centre in Basti’s Kaptanganj, and also at a government hospital but that didn’t help. She died six months ago.   

Harishchandra’s family is now limited to him and his daughter. 

He said his family members died because they “could not avail proper treatment”.

“I don’t have enough money to spend for treatment at private hospitals,” he said.  

Harishchandra does not know what the NHRC is and what it does, but he is now hopeful the notice will help others like him get proper healthcare.   

Also read: Yogi wanted to divide Delhi voters on biryani, but Kejriwal’s aloo paratha kept them united


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