BPP Says It Tried to help Ferzin Batlivala’s Mother.

Yesterday we reported about the really tragic story of little Ferzin Batlivala who died due to starvation.

Here is a follow up article.

In a case before the Bombay High Court on housing for poor Parsis, chief justice Swatanter Kumar incredulously asked: "Are there poor Parsis?"

It may seem like an oxymoron; in reality, there are many in the community like Nisha Batlivala.

Batlivala lost one of her three children — a seven-year-old — to suspected starvation (first reported in a community mouthpiece and later in an English tabloid).

People like Batlivala turn to the community trust — the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP) — for succour. The Punchayet on Tuesday said they did as much as was possible to help Batlivala. Stating that they were willing to provide any kind of help to the family, chairperson Dinshaw Mehta said, "We are told that she is at a home of one Sachinwalla who is taking care of the two children. If they need any kind of support, we will support them."

When Batlivala approached the trust three months ago, with her three kids in tow, to get any dues that her husband, who was employed with the BPP, may have not claimed, she was turned down, saying he had claimed all dues. But when she asked for financial assistance, she was apparently asked to furnish proof that her husband was actually a Parsi (Nisha was not born a Parsi). Said Arnavaz Mistry, co-trustee of Punchayet, "She did come and talk to me. In fact I provided her with Rs1,000 cash as immediate relief because she and her children were in very pathetic condition."

BPP is one of the richest community trusts, with a corpus of Rs75 crore and immovable properties worth upward of Rs1,000 crore. The community, which is worried about its dwindling population, recently increased the financial aid to Parsis to produce more children. Officials said Nisha was entitled to Rs3,000 per month, as aid to poor Parsis from the Punchayet, apart from Rs1,000 monthly for bearing a third child.

When questioned why she was not provided with monetary help, Mistry said, "I asked my chairperson. He said she will have to provide proof that her children are Parsis to avail of it. Nisha said that she would come back with the requisite proof to get the benefit of the schemes and so we waited. However, she did not come."

Original article here.

  • Mickie Sorabjee

    Any thing said now about this agonizingly shameful incident in the Parsee Community, will be mere lip-service, and a question of too little, too late. The best tribute we can give this tragic loss of innocent life is a silent prayer for the angelic soul of the little girl that has been liberated from its tortured physical body. RIP.
    The least our BPP can do is to ensure that baby Farzin is given a due Zoroastrian paidast/uthamna ritual. We trust that was done. Also, educating her two younger brothers and indoctrinating/initiating them into the Zoroastrian faith should become the BPP responsibility if the family continues to live in Mumbai. There should never be a repetition of such an abominable case in the region under social welfare responsibility of our cash-rich BPP.
    Instead of wasting charity funds on cosmetic changes to the BPP office under the supervision of the sitting trustee who is an interior decorator by profession {their self-admitted and highlighted activity (sic) in a local English evening paper}, it is about time the BPP invested in complete data on every single Parsee under their custodial authority.
    Ironically, four of our sitting trustees are so involved in wooing and feting voters for favoring their “like feathered” consensus candidate, that they have no time for execution of concrete Trustee responsibilities. They are flush with funds to ensure BPP reins stay firmly in their control, but no conscience to delve into their deep pockets for personal dole to the little Farzins in our community.

  • Pheruza

    It is indeed sad, that we are more concerned as a community with housing and conversion issues, but have lost our humanity along the way. We should be ashamed to be called Zoroastrians (“Charity is thy name” no longer applies). We are a small community. Someone surely knows who and where Bejan Baltivala lives and works / where is parents stay. They have to live with their concience and face Ahura Mazda some day. May God have more mercy on them than they had on their grandchildren. This family may be a Parsi, but Bejan definately did not act as a Zoroastrian, to have abandoned his children like this. The onus of obtaining a marriage certificate should have been on the Parsi Panchayet. PP has the money, why don’t they employ full time impartial social workers to help the poor in our community, and guide them through the labarinth of bureaucratic nonsense needed to apply for funds. Why does every thing have to do with meeting Dinshaw Mehta /other comittee members. Should’nt there be a guideline already in place for handling these issues. And if she did not meet those guidelines, and had to meet Ms Mistry, I think in addition to wedding certificates (which we all know are sometimes difficult to obtain, and what about out of marriage Parsi children, do we also ignore them?) friends/neighbours letters and interviews with children should be alternative strategies in place. And emergency funds to handle these issues, not in a come back tomorrow way. As this case highlights, tomorrow may be too late.

    Having read this article I am even more shocked. If her husband Bejan worked/works at BPP, should they not have known she is his wife? and they are his children? Why is a marriage certificate so important then. They should have atleast got her into the system and done some follow up. – When will we stop procrastinating and realise that for our children, tomorrow can be too late. I’m sorry, but the new bunch of trustees have lost all respect in my eyes. Let thm resolve to act, and implement alternative policies for helping those in need, whether it be the elderly who have no funds (more humane nursing care in hospitals or in homes, if the patient desires that) as well as for our children.

  • Dara

    I would lay most of the blame at the feet of the father. No matter what the situation between the mother and him, it was his responsibility to at least check on the health and well being of his children. How could he just abandon them? Perhaps the mother had no communication channel with him but that still does not absolve him of the crime of willful neglect. The PP should have somehow expedited the whole business of whether the kids are Parsi. A quick check with neighbors would have done that. When a situation is visibly dire, can’t they make exceptions. Stupid!

  • Sharon

    Would anyone know if the BPP has a website – I’d like to give them a piece of my mind – directly.

    To see any child perish how little Farzin perished is abhorent to the soul.

    Can we bring a legal case against the father for abandonment, negligence etc. I’d like someone to pay for this crime.

    Apologies but this is a crime that should not go unpunished.

    Also – is there anyway where people can send donations to the family?
    Who is looking after them now?
    Is Farzin’s blood going to be shed in vain?
    Is the BPP still waiting for a marriage certificate for one of their own employees. Surely they knew who they were. What a web of lies and money hungry, lowdown people. If they are Zoraostrian – then I am NOT.

    Thank you

  • Mal

    Absolutely outrageous, Dinshaw Mehta should hand in his resignation. Hes done an awful job of the BPP and as long as hes part of it, he will continue to bring down the community.
    Arnavaz Mistry did a noble act with the immediate fund. Perhaps the BPP should see more people like her.

  • Jennifer Rewadi

    I am truly and utterly shocked at what has happened to the little Farzin. May her soul rest in peace which I am sure will unlike those becuase of whom this little child lost her life. But I do not blame The Parsi Punchayat alone for this. What was her mother doing for so many days seeing the little child starve. Wasnt it her duty to let her employers know about Farzin’s ill health???
    According to her employers they used to give her bread and milk everyday for the kids so why was Farzin hungry for two days.
    I myself have completed my education with the help of funds from the parsi punchayat and other parsi funds. I also never used to like the tedious procedures that had to be followed before procuring funds but they have yo follow a certain procedure too.
    I am not backing the PP for what they did but just saying that the mothers role in the childs illhealth should also not be ignored.
    She is a mother after all. My mother was also the only earning member in the family but happen what may we never slept hungry. She would not eat or eat less but would feed us.
    I request people to also see from that angle and not just blame the Trusts because there are many houses whose bread and butter comes from this very trust.
    I would also like to know if someone knows how to get in touch with this family now so that we may do whatever we can so that the other two children dont suffer the same fate as the little angel Farzin.
    God Bless Her Soul.

  • Delnavaz

    It was horrible reading about little Farzin. I agree with Jennifer that more than the BPP it is the parents who are to blame. The so called farther who abandoned his family, who did not care what became of them. Also Farzin’s mother. I can’t believe that she did not even have Rs.5/- to buy the child a morsel of food when she herself was getting a meal from her employer. Nisha’s fate is unfortunately not unique, there have been others who have faced worse times, their children may go hungry very often, but have not been deprived of food altogether. Nisha herself admited that the trustees asked her to admit the children in Avabai school, why did she not do so if times were so desperate. From the postmortem we learn that Farzin had injuries on her body, which suggested that she was beaten up. We need to help this family, but not by blindly giving money. We need to ensure that the money is spent on the remaining two children.

  • I Agree with Jennifer,however I would like to take the opportunity to say, that BPP sucks… we have more important things than counting the cash in the cash coffers, How dare people like the chief justice say that “are they poor parsees” Get out of the slumber Mehta…. you or any trustees(sic) have the moral right to be where you are.

    My Question, to ALL Zorastrians is “why should there be any Poor Parsee?” when there are funds that can take care of every Parsee and the office holders think it is their wealth ? you (BPP) come out with ‘schemes’ to promote child birth …. this child was born.. and died …. cause lack of FOOD?
    when we all parsees are supposed to be food lovers… there seems something amiss here.

    BPP: Please get rid of your High Handedness. and do what you are supposed to “SERVE” and not hoped to be served yourselves, put the funds to use… do not abuse it…