Four malnourished Santhali siblings aged 6 to 10, who were left to fend for themselves by their father for over two months, were rescued by neighbours at Dakra in Khelari block of Ranchi district Wednesday.
Doctors at the Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) hospital in Dakra said the youngest showed symptoms of stage 3 malnutrition. However, with no signs of infection they have been discharged.
Arvind Murmu (10) cooked for Anita Kumari (7), Pushpa Kumari (6-7) and Nitesh (5-6) as long as food lasted. Neighbours claimed towards the end of the two months, at least Nitesh was seen scavenging for food from a nearby drain.
Their father Jiten Murmu left on December 5 with his second wife and their three children after his mother died in Ramgarh district. “I thought I would be able to come back soon. But I got busy with work,” he said sitting on the verandah of his CCL quarters, inebriated. He arrived Wednesday after phone calls from relatives and neighbours.
The CCL employee earns more than Rs 30,000 a month. His first wife Jagmati Devi of Hazaribagh died in 2008 giving birth to their sixth child, Nitesh. He remarried within a year.
Two children from his first marriage do not stay with Jiten; he does not seem to know where one of them is. The eldest is with relatives in Ramgarh.
“Jiten was not taking care of her,” said his brother Mahadev, who is taking care of Sunita Kumari, 14. Unlike her siblings, Sunita goes to school.