New Delhi: Three sisters were found dead in east Delhi's Mandawali area with initial postmortem report hinting that it was a case of starvation, prompting the city government to order a magisterial probe into the matter, even as the BJP and Congress attacked the AAP over the incident.
The girls, aged eight, four and two years, were brought to a hospital by their mother and a friend at around 1 pm on Tuesday, and the hospital authorities informed police about their deaths.
A board of doctors conducted a re-examination at the GTB hospital, Pankaj Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police (east), said.
According to the initial postmortem report, the girls died due to "malnourishment/starvation and its complications".
However, police said that the second autopsy will establish the cause of death with finality. They added that there were no traces of food found in the stomach of the girls.
A forensic team inspected the place where the family was staying and found some medicine bottles and pills for treating loose motion, police said.
The girls' father, a casual labourer, is missing since Tuesday, though locals said he had gone in search of work and would return in a couple of days. No injury marks were found on the bodies, they said.
"The Delhi government has ordered a magisterial probe into the matter," Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said in a tweet.
Initially, it seemed to be a case of natural death but with the medicine bottles being recovered, the police want to ensure that there was no foul play. It is suspected that the girls had not eaten for days, and on Monday, their father had arranged food but since they were unwell, they could not eat, police said.
Locals said the family had shifted to the area on Saturday, and they did not have much interaction with them.
The girls' father used to pull a rickshaw he had rented. After it was stolen a few days ago, they were brought to the area by a friend, who had given them shelter at his residence.
Two of the sisters, aged two and four, had been unwell for a few days. They had bouts of vomiting and loose motion, the locals said.
Police are probing as to how the third one also fell ill suddenly.
Police said they are investigating the case from all angles, including the girls dying of malnourishment.
The father's friend, who had accompanied their mother to the hospital, told police that the children were unwell and he took them to the hospital.
The girls' mother is not "mentally sound" and told police that she did not know what happened to her daughters and how they died.
Police said that the family originally belonged to West Bengal.
"The girls' mother is mentally unsound and has not been able to tell the police what exactly happened to her daughters. The medicines found from the spot were bought from a mohalla clinic," a police official said.
Police said the medicines have been sent for forensic examination.
Attacking the AAP government over the incident, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said that it is "sad" that such a "mishap" occurred in Delhi where the local government claims to championing ration distribution to the poor, Tiwari said hitting at AAP government.
"It saddens us beyond expression that such an incident happened in the constituency of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia," he said.
Reacting sharply to BJP's accusation, AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj said the Delhi government is trying to implement the doorstep delivery of ration, but the BJP was stopping it.
Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken also sought to corner the Arvind Kejriwal government, saying "We had warned the Delhi government that nine lakh eligible families have not got ration cards despite applying for it. Such incident would occur if needy are deprived of ration and ration cards."