Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh): Hunger is man's biggest enemy. Helplessness comes a close second. Ask Naazra Khatoon, who watched a 14-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son die allegedly of starvation. Extremely poor, she could do little to save them and now worries for her three surviving children.
This family in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, depends completely on the benevolence of neighbours for survival since Naazra's husband, who was the only breadwinner, died 10 months ago.
"After my husband's death, it is difficult to sustain. The children of course crave out of hunger. People from the locality willingly donate and try to help us. We don't want to say anything to anyone," says a hapless Naazra Khatoon.
On Sunday, Naazra lost her daughter and son. The administration claims the children died of diarrhea, but human rights activists allege that they died of hunger and malnutrition.
"Some people are spreading misleading information that the children died of diarrhea but that is not true. These children died of hunger and malnutrition," said Shruti, a member Human Rights Public Surveillance.
Naazra does not have the luxury of grieving. She is already fighting to ensure that acute hunger does not claim her three other daughters - 18-year-old Nasira, 16-year-old Naziya and 12-year-old Saina.
"While my father was alive, he did his job and hence could at least slightly provide for the family, but now even that isn't the case. He's no more. There has been shortage of food at home ever since," says Naziya. A neighbour confirms that, "The family is extremely poor. There is a shortage of food, ration and even clothing. The children died as they got no food and no medication when they got ill. They died because of lack of food."
MP Singh, the Upper District Commissioner for Varanasi, however, says, "It was told that the family is poor but the residents say that the death took place due to illness only. A team of doctors was sent to help treat the other ill children."
The state government has given Rs 30,000 as compensation and a two-room apartment to the family. The District Magistrate has written to the Chief Minister asking him to release more money. How you can help:
If you would like to make a donation to help Nazra Khatoon, here are the details of her bank account:
A/C no: 33000925396 Bank: State Bank of India Branch: Kamachha, Varanasi Branch code: 4869 IFSC code: SBIN0004869
Note:This information has been provided / published on a good faith basis, without any commercial motive. NDTV does not vouch for the authenticity of the claims made by the intending done, nor can we guarantee that the donations made by a donor will be used for the purpose as stated by the intending donee. You are requested to independently verify the contact information and other details before making a donation. NDTV and/or its employees will not be responsible for the same.