Poisoning angle in starvation deaths case

Delhi Police intensify search for father of three children who died of apparent malnutrition after inquiry finds traces of ‘unknown medicine’

New Delhi: Delhi Police on Saturday said a manhunt has been launched to find the missing father of three dead girls after a magisterial inquiry found that hunger may not have caused their deaths as was reported earlier but that an “unknown medicine” they were administered may have proved fatal.

The suspect, Mangal Singh, is said to be an alcoholic who was rendered jobless after his e-rickshaw was stolen from east Delhi’s Mandawali neighbourhood.

“On the night before the incident, July 23, Mangal, the father of the children, had given all the three children some unknown medicine with hot water and the children died in the morning,” sub-divisional magistrate Arun Gupta said in his report.

“The fact that Mangal Singh has not returned since raises an element of doubt in the matter and requires further investigation,” Gupta said in his report that was handed over to the government on Friday.

The three children — aged two, four and eight — were discovered unconscious in their one-room house in Mandawali area on Tuesday. They were taken to the Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Hospital where they were declared brought dead.

Autopsy reports of the three girls concluded that they died of starvation. Doctors at the hospital, who performed the autopsy, ruled out any other cause of death, saying no traces of food were found in their stomachs.

However, the magisterial probe discovered that the three girls had been suffering from loose motions and vomiting, which may have been due to some stomach infection.

“They were not provided adequate ORS [oral rehydration solution] solution or proper medication, which may have caused dehydration,” Gupta said in his report.

The probe has also discovered that the eldest of the three children, Mansi, appeared ill on Monday and vomited. She had been provided mid-day meal at her school but she could not consume it due to her illness. It was also found that Rs1,805 was deposited in Mansi’s bank account.

Based on Gupta’s report, viscera test and post-mortem results collected by the hospital that mentioned that the children had died due to starvation are awaited. The police have been asked to convince the mother of the children — who is mentally unstable — to depose before the investigators.

Gupta has called for a “proper and deeper investigation” into the matter by Pankaj Kumar Singh, Delhi Commissioner of Police, East.

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