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99 Yatra
Infant branded with hot iron fights for life
02 July 2007

Rajkot:  A 10-day-old infant is struggling for life at a Rajkot hospital. Merely three days after her birth, a tantrik branded her with a hot iron rod, which he said was a prescription for incessant crying. Her parents, from Devpara village in Chotila taluka of Surendranagar district, claim to be unaware about who did it.

This is the second instance of hot iron branding within a week in the backward and tribal areas of Saurashtra and Kutch, where superstitious practices still thrive. On Saturday, while her parents were being interrogated by the police, the doctors at KT Children Hospital put an oxygen mask on the infant. The doctors, however, are critical about the survival chances of Bhana and Bhavna Koli’s daughter.

“Recovery seems difficult,” said Dr K A Trambadia, medical officer at K T Children Hospital, adding that the police began its inquiry after a complaint was lodged by the hospital authorities. “We have no idea who did it. The tantrik might have been called by my husband’s grandmother while I was in a hospital at Chotila, and her father was attending to me,” said Bhavna, adding, “She was crying incessantly so someone might have done this to stop her. But, that tantrik has not been seen since then.”

The doctors feel there are a number of factors nullifying their efforts. “The fact that the delivery was not done here, and also that a dose of tetanus was not administered to her during pregnancy makes the case more complicated,” adds Trambadia. The fact that the parents seemed disinterested in the treatment was what was worrying the doctors more. “They want us to discharge her. We tried to convince them, but if they decide to leave, the authorities won’t be able to do much,” said Trambadia. On June 25, a hot iron branding case was reported from Gandhidham. The victim, seven-month-old Vijaya Meghwad from Mia Village in Bhachau taluka in Kutch district, who was suffering from pneumonia, had been branded thrice.

Doctors at the Civil Hospital said they received branding cases once every two to three months. And in most cases, contrary to expectation of parents, the child’s condition only worsens after the incident. Often, iron branding cases go unreported. According to paediatrician Rajesh Jeshwani from Gandhidham, who treated Vijaya, on an average 5-6 cases are registered from Bachchau taluka every month. “It’s very common in rural areas in Kutch. I treat 5-6 patients every month from this taluka alone,” said Jeswani.

“Branding is very rampant in backward and tribal areas,” said Manorama Mehta, former Superintendent of K T Children Hospital. According to her, while the situation in Rajkot district has improved following an elaborate awareness campaign, the practice is common in Kutch and Surendranagar districts where the backward and tribal population was high. Members of some communities have made branding their source of income and earn about Rs 10-15 for each application.

Courtesy: - New Delhi,India kutchhis globally , from Mumbai

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