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Orphaned HIV+ siblings denied ration in Odisha, probe ordered

Two orphaned siblings at a remote village in Kendrapara district have alleged they were denied ration under the government’s food distribution scheme by a retailer because they were HIV-positive, prompting the administration to order a probe.

The children, a 14-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister, alleged that they were refused the subsidised ration by the dealer at Olavar village last Sunday. However, the retailer, Ananta Behari, denied the charge, saying, “I only told them to come later.” 

The district administration has ordered a probe into the matter. Besides, a joint inquiry by the local block officials, health department and the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre, run by the state Aids Control Society, has been ordered into the shocking incident. 

Kendrapara Collector Debraj Senapati said criminal action would be initiated against the accused Public Distribution System (PDS) retailer if he is found guilty.

The siblings in a petition addressed to the DM and collector charged that they were ridiculed for being HIV/AIDS carriers. “The incident took place last Sunday when I had gone to the ration shop along with my sister. I was suffering from cold. This irritated the ration shop owner. He told us to keep a distance, shouting that the virus would contract him. Ration was denied to us and we returned empty-handed,” the boy said. The siblings had lost their parents to HIV in 2005.

The plight of the orphaned HIV/AIDS carrier siblings drew presidential intervention after they wrote to the then president late APJ Abdul Kalam and narrated their ordeal. Moved by the letter, Kalam had dispatched a draft of Rs 20,000 in June 2005, and also spurred the local administration to help the siblings.
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