Three girls dead in Delhi, failed by every point in the system  

Their father, recently thrown out of his rented house in Mandawali, was out looking for work while they starved to death. He has yet to return. No one knows what has happened to Mangal Singh

 Three girls dead in Delhi, failed by every point in the system  
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Zaheeb Ajmal

Every other day, we reporters visit incidents and crime scenes in Delhi, to report the details of an atrocity. But one of the hardest stories I have heard and told till date is that of the three little girls, who died starving in India’s capital city.

The news on Tuesday, July 24 of the deaths from hunger of three young girls in Mandawali in east Delhi’s Patparganj left the capital in a state of shock.

Mangal Singh lived with his wife and three daughters in Gali No. 13, Saket Block in Mandawali till Saturday, July 21. On that day, they were forcefully evicted from their rented house by their landlord Kushal Mehra, after Mangal lost the rickshaw owned by Kushal. Bhagat Singh, a friend of Mangal, had offered shelter to Mangal’s family in
his rented house at Pandit Chowk, Mandawali. Mangal left Bhagat’s house on Tuesday, July 24 to search for a job for himself—and has not returned till date. That afternoon, all his three children died. No one knows where Mangal Singh is, or if anything has happened to him. No one knows if he is aware that his children are no more.

His three daughters were found unconscious at home at around 1 pm by Bhagat Singh, who rushed them to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital. There, they were pronounced dead. According to their post mortem reports, all three children died of starvation and its complications. Their mother, severely mentally unwell herself, was in no position to care for them.

Roop Singh, a neighbour of Bhagat Singh in Pandit Chowk, said the younger two girls, aged two and four, had been unwell for a few days. They had been suffering from vomiting and loose motions, he said. “They had come to Pandit Chowk three days ago. If we had known they were hungry, we would have offered them a meal,” said Roop,
virtuously. One couldn’t help wonder that if neighbours knew the details of how ill the girls were, how come they did not know they were starving.

Not only Mangal’s family, his neighbours too while speaking to NH said that getting rations is a far-fetched dream as they haven’t received their ration cards. One of the neighbours said that this is the first time any MP or MLA had visited their place in four years.

The death of Mangal’s 8-year-old child along with her 2- and 4-year-old siblings has raised a lot of questions. She was enrolled in a primary school in Mandawali. Was she not being provided with mid-day meals? National Herald spoke to the school principal. She said, “The child has come only two days in the month of July. As she was suffering from dehydration, she didn’t have mid-day meal on that day.”

Police are currently probing how she also fell ill suddenly. They say they are investigating the case from all angles, including the girls’ dying of malnourishment.

Santosh, a neighbour of Mangal in Saket Block claimed that “Mangal was a regular drinker and the family always suffered from scarcity of food. The kids always used to ask us for food. Their mother was mentally unstable.”

Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken said the deaths point to a failure of the government and the system. The eldest girl was studying in a government school, which is supposed to provide free mid-day meals, he pointed out. “The family did not have a ration card and we have Aam Aadmi Canteen only on paper,” said Maken.

BJP East Delhi MP Mahesh Giri said, “It is a case of ration card scam. Delhi government is responsible for the deaths. Victims are being deprived of rations. Politics should not be played over death, but responsibility should be fixed for deaths. AAP government is in power from four years but failed to distribute ration to the beneficiary.”

“Our system has failed. I have sought a report from Integrated Child Development Services to see, were these people in our records? If yes, then why were these girls not given help? Government has given immediate financial aid of ₹25,000 and their mother will be admitted to hospital. Will make sure that she gets the best treatment. Once their father returns, we'll provide more financial help,” said Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.

Not only Mangal’s family, his neighbours too while speaking to NH said that getting rations is a far-fetched dream as they haven’t received their ration cards. One of the neighbours said that this is the first time any MP or MLA had visited their place in four years.

Politicians of all hues are crowding the tiny galis of Mandawali to meet Mangal Singh’s wife. But they have come too late for three little girls of a poverty-stricken family. Their elected representatives, their school, their neighbourhood, their city—all systems in place to protect them—failed to ensure they got even the basic nourishment
required to live.

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