Shock and outrage prevailed across the state on Friday after a report in a local newspaper claimed that the police had booked two people for causing the death of their child by “keeping her malnourished” and “not raising her right”.
A small single column news story carried on the front page of the Bhopal edition of a popular Hindi daily on Friday claimed that Police had booked a daily wage labourer Amarchand and his wife, of Sukhi sevania village near Bhopal, for causing the death of their 2-year old daughter by “keeping her malnurished”.
As the news spread, there was instant media frenzy with local TV news channels holding panel debates on the issue and the opposition Congress slamming the ruling BJP government.
The news story left the Bhopal police shocked and looking for explanations to offer to enquiring journalists.
“Even I was shocked to read the news story. It is ridiculous and a gross misrepresentation of facts,” Bhopal senior superintendent of police Yogesh Chaudhary told The Hindu.
“The child had died of physical injury according to her post-mortem report and therefore a case of criminal negligence was registered against the parents. Why would the police register a case for death caused due to malnutrition?” he wondered.
“The police have booked the couple for causing the death of their daughter Swati in June by keeping her undernourished while paying more attention to their sons,” the report quoted the Sukhi Sevania Thana in-charge J.L. Sundare as saying.
With 60% of the state's children undernourished, malnutrition is a very sensitive issue in Madhya Pradesh and therefore the report drew angry reactions from child rights activists and the media. The opposition Congress too reacted sharply to the report.
“Now malnutrition is a law and order problem? If yes, then the health minister and the women and child development minister, under whose watch thousands of children have died over the last eight years, should also be arrested,” leader of opposition in the state assembly Ajay Singh said.