NEW DELHI:On Tuesday morning, a woman in Delhi brought her three little daughters - eight, four and two - to a hospital, where doctors declared them dead. How did they die, the police asked the mother. "Give me food..," she mumbled, nearly collapsing.
The three sisters had died of hunger, doctors reported after an initial examination. They hadn't eaten for eight days. On Monday night, they went into shock. A second autopsy has confirmed that they had starved to death.
"There was no trace of fat on their bodies. Postmortem showed the stomach was absolutely empty. It's a case of gross malnutrition," said Amita Saxena, Medical Superintendent, Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital.
"In my career of 15 years at a government hospital, never have I seen something like this," another doctor on the case said.
The children's starvation death in the capital city, which has the country's second-highest income, has generated shock. The government has ordered an inquiry into the deaths, union minister Ram Vilas Paswan said today.
The family of five from Bengal moved into Mandawali in east Delhi on Saturday with a friend of the children's father, say neighbours. Their father, a rickshaw-puller, has been missing since. Some neighbours said he had gone in search of work and would return in a couple of days. He had come to Delhi for work after his rickshaw was stolen. Police have formed teams to look for him.
The girls' mother looked "mentally unsound", the police said.
Inside the room that the family had stayed for the past three days, a forensic team found some medicine bottles, pills for diarrhoea and little else.
Two of the younger sisters had been unwell for a few days, with bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea. It is not clear how the oldest girl, who went to school and should have been provided mid-day meals, also fell ill.
Leaders of the BJP and the Congress visited the family and both targeted Delhi's Aam Aadmi Party government.
"It is utterly shameful... I don't want to make it about politics... The centre sends subsidised food; it is the Delhi government's job to deliver it to citizens," said BJP's Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari.
Congress's Ajay Maken, after meeting the girls' mother, said: "Shocking to hear their story, the failure of the government and the system."
The AAP accused the BJP of pointing fingers after blocking its scheme for doorstep delivery of services including ration.
"Delhi government has been begging for a year for the doorstep delivery of ration. Who has been blocking it? There should be an investigation," said AAP's Sanjay Sharma.--NDTV