Kerala

Tribal child's death disrupts Assembly

Picture for representation.

Picture for representation. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Opposition outrage at the recent death of a four-month-old child at the Murugala tribal settlement in Attappady disrupted the Assembly on Thursday.

Angry exchange of jeers and catcalls cropped up during Zero Hour when Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) legislator N. Samsudheen sought an adjournment motion to discuss the issue. The fracas led to an Opposition United Democratic Front walkout.

Mr. Samsudheen said: “The photograph of the child’s father cradling his daughter’s body tenderly in his arms and walking in torrential rain through the forest to reach a hospital is a shame on the government. The sorrowful sight indicates the plight of tribal people under an administration that claims to be Left.”

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said inferior prenatal care and malnutrition were the primary causes of infant mortality among tribal children. The Kottathara tribal hospital lacked doctors, staff, equipment and medicines. It was in a state of disrepair. The government transferred the hospital's superintendent out of political spite.

The system had failed tribal people. Inter-department coordination for tribal welfare was non-existent. The ruling front had treated the Opposition's bid to highlight the plight of tribal people in a contemptuous manner.

It even cut power to the hospital, citing default on electricity bills. Pregnant tribal women must traverse through rugged terrain and negotiate bad roads to reach the next government hospital at Perinthalmanna or Thrissur. The government did not even provide tribal mothers seeking medical attention with affordable transport, Mr. Satheesan said.

Tribal Welfare Minister K. Radhakrishnan said forensic experts were yet to determine the cause of death. The child was hale and hearty the previous night and had slept alongside her mother.

Health Minister Veena George speculated that "aspirated milk" could have turned lethal for the child. The tribal hospital was well equipped. There was no lack of prenatal care or visits. Electricity Minister K. Krishnankutty clarified that the government had not severed power to the hospital.

Ms. George asked Mr. Samsudheen to visit his constituency occasionally. Other ruling front legislators followed suit. "At least send a photograph of yours," one shouted.

Apparently incensed by ruling front taunts, Opposition legislators trooped to the well of the House, prompting Speaker M.B. Rajesh to halt the proceedings briefly. He rejected the Opposition's notice for the motion.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2022 6:23:04 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/tribal-childs-death-disrupts-assembly/article65639558.ece