NHRC demands answers on deaths of indigenous children
Graphic: NHRC head office, New Delhi
740 students from poor tribal areas of Maharashtra state had died in schools over the past decade from illnesses such as malaria.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has drawn attention to the "shocking and painful" deaths in the past decade of 740 indigenous children in state-run residential schools in Maharashtra.
It is the second time in two months that the commission has highlighted failures in the state's care of indigenous people. Last month, the NHRC asked state authorities for a detailed report on the deaths of more than 600 indigenous children from malnutrition.
The NHRC said in a statement that 740 students from poor tribal areas of Maharashtra state had died in schools over the past decade from illnesses such as malaria, food poisoning, drowning and snake bites.
The schools, which provide accommodation for pupils, had not followed several procedures, including health screens for the students at least twice a year, it said.
There are 552 residential schools for indigenous students run by the Department of Tribal Development. However, the NHRC noted that a number of posts are lying vacant and that budgetary provisions are not being utilised in a proper manner.
"The school authorities, as their lawful guardians, are responsible for their welfare, safety and healthcare," the NHRC said.
"The negligence on the part of the Department of Tribal Development and the school authorities is a violation of the right to life, dignity and equality of the students," it added.
The NHRC asked the government of Maharashtra to provide a report on the matter within a month.
Date: 18 October 2016
Source: National Human Rights Commission
- NHRC head office, New Delhi - APF/Michael Power