A paraplegic house painter, who could not pay a bribe of Rs 100 for a wheelchair in a government hospital, was forced to mount his son’s tricycle. Daswa Raju, 38, lost control of his lower limbs when he fell on a transformer on August 24, 2016. Raju had to be taken to the burns ward on Thursday. After suffering at the hands of various attendants at Gandhi Hospital, who once confiscated his wife Santoshi’s cellphone to extract the bribe, Raju now goes to the hospital with his son’s blue tricycle.
Helped by Santoshi, he uses the tricycle to reach the ward on the fifth floor. “We came by autorickshaw to the hospital on Thursday morning for a check-up. To get a wheel chair we have to give Rs 100 to an attendant, which we sometimes cannot afford. So we brought our child’s tricycle,’’ Santoshi said. “If I do not have it (the Rs 100), the attendant keeps my mobile phone and I have to beg and plead with other patients to pay Rs 100 on my behalf.”
Raju, the sole breadwinner, has four children and little hope of finding work soon. The family is taken care of by a neighbour Mohammed Safi, an autorickshaw driver. He also takes him to the hospital in his autorickshaw whenever possible. “This man cannot walk but they demand Rs 100 from his wife for a wheel chair,” Safi said. “I was in tears when I saw how his wife pushes him on the tricycle… No one helps. If we complain, the attendant may help once but the next time again they demand bribes,” he said.
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, says “the appropriate government shall take measures to protect persons with disabilities from all forms of abuse, violence and exploitation and to prevent the same, shall take cognizance of incidents of abuse, violence and exploitation and provide legal remedies…”. Gandhi Hospital medical superintendent Dr B S V Manjula said an inquiry was on. A video of Raju on his son’s tricycle is circulating on social media. “We have seen the video clip…. This is unacceptable,” Manjula said.
“Raju… was in the hospital for nearly three months, and against our advice he checked out saying he preferred out-patient follow-ups. His last appointment was on Monday when he was given a wheel chair but why he came on Thursday we do not know,” she said.