The five-year-old was walking with her ‘mentally ill’ grandmother to a village to meet a relative
The girl was found next to her grandmother who was lying unconscious. The two were walking to a village about 10 kilometres away to meet the woman’s sister, the district officials told the media.
The girl’s body was found in the sand dunes in Raniwada, Rajasthan, by shepherds who then informed the local villagers.
The five-year-old was living with her grandmother, known only as Sukhi.
Padmaram Rana, a local police station officer, told NDTV: “The woman and her granddaughter were not carrying water with them and that appears to be the cause of death.”
The two fainted due to the heatstroke due to intense heat and humidity. The five-year-old girl could not endure the blistering sun and passed away. The grandmother is now undergoing treatment in a local hospital.
This tragic incident led to an outburst from the union water minister, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who attacked the Rajasthan state government for ignoring the central government’s ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ over the five-year-old’s death.
Jal Jeevan Mission — roughly translated to Water is Life Mission — aims at providing “safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections by 2024 to all households in rural India”, according to the government website.
In a series of tweets, the union minister accused Rajasthan of “not utilising the budget it received for implementation of the Jal Jeevan Mission”.
Meanwhile, Namrata Varshney, the Jalore district collector, told the media that investigations so far had revealed that the girl lived with her grandmother. The mother of the child, she said had left the family many years ago.
“The child’s mother had left the family some years ago to marry for the second time,” Ms Varshney said.
She also said that Ms Sukhi had not made use of her ration card for a few months. “Locals say the child and her grandmother would sometimes beg for food and at other times, the neighbours would help them with food,” she told NDTV.
The officials have contacted a relative of the woman and are working to rehabilitate her.