Muzaffarnagar riots: Politicians missing, officials in denial over relief camp deaths

Muzaffarnagar RiotsVictims living in the camps say that few if any leaders of the parties now protesting have bothered visiting them to find out the conditions they are living in. (IE Photo: Oinam Anand)

As political leaders stall Parliament over children's deaths due to cold in the relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, victims living in the camps say that few if any leaders of the parties now protesting have bothered visiting them to find out the conditions they are living in.

A report sent by the Shamli district administration to the state government on December 5, meanwhile, claimed "zero child deaths" in the camps, saying reports regarding this were "baseless allegations".

The Indian Express had earlier met several parents who alleged their children had died from the cold, including 16 children in Malakpur, five in the madrasa camp in Suneti, one in Barnavi, two in Khurgan, one in Dabheri Khurd, two in Bipur camps in Shamli district and 11 in Loi in Muzaffarnagar district.

In a report forwarded to UP Home Secretary Kamal Saxena, accessed by The Indian Express, Shamli District Magistrate P K Singh said that according to assesments by the CMO of the district, who conducted visits of doctors in camps, "mrityu ki soochna shunya payi gayi (reporting of deaths was found to be zero)" and "no patient reporting any serious illness was found", though 7,093 "displaced people" and 2,023 children had been treated at government health centres in camps.

The report also said that in 57 deliveries conducted at community health centres in the district, no deaths of mothers or newborns had been reported. "People in the camps have not informed us or got the deaths registered with proper death certificates. So, on government records, not a single death of infants from cold has been recorded," says the report.

While not refuting that parents had not sought death certificates, a member of the committee running the Malakpur camp, Chaudhary Gulshad, said, "The government should come and see the graves that we have dug around the camps. Parents who have lost one child have to deal with protecting their other kids from cold, while trying to make a living. They don't have time to go filling forms. Whenever government doctors have come here and asked us for reports, we have made them meet the parents."

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