Two children die of starvation in Andhra Pradesh: NGO

Amaravati: Two children have died of starvation after they resorted to eating mud in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district during the last six months, a child rights group has said. Balala Hakkula Sangham, a non-governmental organisation fighting for children’s rights, has complained to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that the two children aged around 5 died as they were eating mud to satiate their hunger.

Vennela died on April 28 while her cousin Santosh died six months ago. Both children were buried near their hut by Mahesh and Neela Veni, who had migrated from Karnataka along with six children in search of livelihood. While Santosh was their son, Vennela was the daughter of Neela’s sister.

The couple was addicted to liquor and were unable to provide food to the children. As the news of the deaths spread, local officials swung into action and shifted four children to a government-run children’s home for rehabilitation. The couple was sent to a de-addiction centre.

Locals said the family had virtually nothing to survive on. Sometimes neighbours used to give them some food but it was not sufficient.

The family had no ration card as the authorities could not issue it because they had no Aadhaar cards. Kadiri Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) T Ajay Kumar, who rushed to the village to conduct an inquiry, assured that they would be provided Aadhaar cards, ration card and other certificates so they can avail the benefits of various schemes. Moved by the family’s plight, local police officials Ismail and Venkata Swamy were mobilising donations from philanthropists to help them.

Achyuta Rao, Honorary President, Balala Hakkula Sangham, in his complaint to the NHRC, sought directions to the Andhra Pradesh government to do justice to the family so that the remaining children do not die of starvation.

He claimed that no scheme or project of the state or central governments aided the family.

Rao said the couple were rarely getting work and the family was sleeping on the roads at night and lived under trees during the day.

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