Probe into 3 national capital hunger deaths fudged details to cover up: Delhi govthttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/probe-into-3-delhi-hunger-deaths-fudged-details-to-cover-up-government-5611171/

Probe into 3 national capital hunger deaths fudged details to cover up: Delhi govt

The Indian Express has learnt that two inquiry reports into the issue, prepared by Women and Child Development Department, were allegedly riddled with falsities, prompting Sisodia to lash out at the department’s secretary over what he termed a “fraud”.

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The Indian Express has learnt that two inquiry reports into the issue, prepared by the Delhi government’s Women and Child Development Department (WCD), were allegedly riddled with falsities, prompting Sisodia to lash out at the department’s secretary over what he termed a “fraud”. (File photo)

Anganwadi registers were allegedly “fudged”, pages “pulled out” and pencil records “erased” and overwritten to falsely establish that three sisters aged 8, 4 and 2, who died of starvation in east Delhi last year, fell under the safety net of the state-run Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is learnt to have written in file notings on the issue.

The Indian Express has learnt that two inquiry reports into the issue, prepared by the Delhi government’s Women and Child Development Department (WCD), were allegedly riddled with falsities, prompting Sisodia to lash out at the department’s secretary over what he termed a “fraud”.

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According to official records, the family of the three girls — Mansi (8), Shikha (4) and Parul (2) — who were found dead in a one-room tenement in east Delhi’s Mandawali on July 24, 2018, were in the catchment area of anganwadi number 62 of that neighbourhood.

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The investigations conducted by the WCD had officials involved in multiple layers — from anganwadi workers and supervisors to senior officers. The reports were routed through the WCD secretary to Sisodia, who also holds the WCD portfolio. The reports were submitted between October and November, sources said.

There are around 10,800 anganwadis in Delhi, which come under the ICDS scheme meant for holistic development of children aged six and below and lactating mothers.

When the Deputy CM’s office ordered an inquiry into the incident, the WCD came up with a “wishy-washy” report, which prompted Sisodia to order a second round of investigation, it is learnt. But the second report threw up evidence of even more alleged fudging.

As per the report, the family had been staying in the catchment area of anganwadi number 62 since 2014, but were not brought under the ICDS umbrella. After an inquiry was ordered, staffers and officials allegedly connived at multiple levels in covering up their lapses over the years, which could have perhaps prevented the deaths.

Official records state that the angwandi register of 2014 shows that a birth record, presumably of Shikha (4), has been allegedly entered using “a different pen from other records”. Also, the exact date of birth finds no mention, unlike other records on the same page, and the format of the date is also different from others.

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On another page, the 2015-16 records were allegedly erased, “overwritten using pen” and there were different handwritings of two records on the same page, the records note.

Also, the 2016-17 survey register record has allegedly been “fudged, blank middle page has been pulled out from later blank portion of the register, it has then been written on and affixed in the middle of the register, page numbering has also been redone”, records show.

Records show that in the 2017-18 register, “record of the family is in a different pen from other records on same page, seems to be have been added for purpose of investigation”.

Sisodia further observed in the file notings: “It is shocking, to say the least, that such a fraud has been tried to be pulled off the second time; in spite of my clear apprehension about the veracity of the first investigation report. It shows a complete bankruptcy of morality and/or competence of all those involved in conducting this investigation and of those in pushing its fraudulent findings ahead. Is it the job of the Deputy CM office to do forensic analysis of department reports? Why were these fudgings not caught at many levels before these reports reached my office? Does it not point to an organised effort to cover up massive failures in ICDS management and to deliberately mislead me?”