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Malnutrition Kills Two Kids In Madhya Pradesh

At least two children have reportedly died from malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior district, child rights activists say //, emblematic of a deep-rooted problem afflicting over 80,000 underprivileged children in this state.

While one-year-old Purushottam of Ateri village died Sunday, two-year-old Chhottu died Dec 20 though the court had directed the state to take special care of him, the activists said.

"Both deaths occurred at a Gwalior hospital due to the alleged negligence of the staff and doctors," said Sandesh Bansal, an activist with Jan Adhikar Manch.

Bansal told IANS: "The cause of Chhottu's death was even more shocking. The district authorities continued to shirk their responsibility of taking care of the child and his family though the high court had ordered them to do so. They said it was not their job since the family belonged to Raisen district."

Chhottu belonged to one of 18 families of bonded labourers rescued from Raisen district, 50 km from here, in 2005 at the behest of the Bandhua Mazdoor Mukti Morcha, a group working for the rights of workers.

Since the state failed to rehabilitate the rescued families, Jai Prasad of the Morcha knocked the doors of the high court, which directed the district administration and the state labour department to look after the families under the Madhya Pradesh rehabilitation programme.

But the authorities apparently refused to, saying the families were not their responsibility since they were not from Gwalior.

"The matter pertains to Raisen from where they were brought here," said C.S. Dixit, Gwalior's assistant labour commissioner.

The administration's attitude has made the workers think that they were better off as bonded labour.

"We are being treated like animals, worse than when we were hostage in stone quarries," laments Bharat Adivasi, Chhottu's father.

Added Prasad: "This is happening despite the
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