|A child is buried at a relief camp in Muzaffarnagar (Pic: Indian Express)|
Thursday, December 05, 2013
40 children dead due to cold at India riot relief camps
NEW DELHI (AA) - Just three months after the killing of at least 50 people in communal riots between Hindus and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), death returns to haunt the displaced families of the riot victims in a quieter and different form. With the onset of an extreme winter, the cold has claimed over 40 lives, most of them children, reports the English-language daily Indian Express though government officials have denied "irregular deaths".
Zafarul Islam Khan, president of All-India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat (AIMMM), an umbrella organisation of Indian Muslims, slammed the UP state government for the complete denial of the children’s death as a result of cold.
"It’s a matter of shame for the government," Khan told Anadolu Agency from Muzaffarnagar which he visited today to oversee relief and documentation work.
Khan said the children including infants died because of cold, fever, pneumonia, and hunger.
"There is no proper medical facility at the relief camps. The displaced victims of the riots can’t even afford a fee of Rs. 100 by an ordinary doctor," he said.
Khan said that there is no adequate ration for the relief camp residents as government had stopped supplying food grains from the month of November.
He said that there are at least 15,000 people still living in makeshift tents.
Today was Khan’s fifth visit of the relief camps.
Earlier on November 27, a delegation from the AIMMM visited the relief camps along with social workers and journalists. The delegation distributed 300 woolen duvets and mattresses worth rupees 250,000.
The government officials have questioned the veracity of the deaths being reported.
"These claims of so many deaths appear to be false. If there was even a single death, the local press would have been alerted. In any case, neither the affected families nor the organisers of the camps informed us about these deaths. So how do we establish the cause of death in retrospect?" the Indian Express quoted Shamli District Magistrate P K Singh as saying.
Singh said that teams of doctors would be sent to conduct a survey.
"Doctors have been making periodic rounds of the camps, but now we will ask them for detailed reports. Any health concerns of the people will be addressed," Singh told the Indian daily.
Khan, the AIMMM's president, severely questioned the government official’s denial and said that from the day one government has been misleading and lying to the nation on Muzaffarnagar riots and its aftermath.
"The government says only one relief camp exists today. You come to Muzaffarnagar and I will show you at least two dozen relief camps," Khan said sternly.
In a spate of violence that broke out on September 7, at least 50 people were killed in Muzaffarnagar and neighboring towns and villages after a Muslim man was killed by the brother and cousin of a Hindu girl after allegedly harassing her. The two killers -- from the Hindu Jat community -- were reportedly lynched by the family of the slain Muslim and others in the locality.