Members of the distraught Wagh family, who lost their two-and-a-half-year-old son Sagar to malnutrition last month, had just one question for the beeline of visitors at their shanty in the Kalamwadi village of Palghar on Saturday — where were the authorities and ministers when Sagar was suffering?
Days after the incident, state tribal minister Vishnu Savara visited the house to console the grieving family. Wagh, however, refused to meet him. Local reports also claimed Savara said, “let it be” when questioned about the increasing number of deaths owing to malnourishment in the district.
Wagh, who was clutching on to her eight-month-old daughter Nandini, said, “Where was everyone when my son was suffering? Why is everybody visiting us now?”
The villagers said although Sagar was treated at the local primary health care centre, his condition deteriorated again. “He could not breathe when we took him to hospital on the day he died,” his mother Sita said. The aanganwadi sevika said there are several children suffering from acute malnourishment in the village.
The Wagh family was visited by several politicians, including leaders of opposition Dhananjay Munde (NCP) and Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil (Congress). The latter has demanded Savra’s resignation for his comments.
Savara, who belongs to the tribal community, is also the guardian minister for Palghar, where 126 children have died owing to malnutrition. Savara’s remarks, captured in a video clip went viral, forcing chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to seek a clarification from the minister on the issue. Savara clarified saying his response was only to silence some activists, who were not allowing him to speak with the family of the victims.
While Savara was not available for a comment on Sunday, in an earlier statement to HT, he had denied making the casual comment.