A day after a seven-month-old girl was admitted to a Deesa hospital in Banaskantha district on Sunday with burns from branding with hot iron, the infant died at her residence on Monday night, hours after she was discharged in the evening.
She was allegedly branded with hot iron tongs by a tantrik (witch doctor), who was approached by her parents, in a Banaskantha village.
“The girl died at her residence in a Banaskantha village on Monday night. The body has been sent for post-mortem and its results are awaited. Only after the reports are out, we will be able to know the reason behind her death. Police have started an investigation into the case and soon an FIR will be lodged,”
said Superintendent of Police, Pradeep Sejul.
The victim’s parents allegedly subjected her to branding by a tantrik in their neighbouring village believing it would cure her breathing difficulties. She was branded with tongs on chest and stomach, after which her health deteriorated and was admitted to the private hospital in Deesa on Sunday. A video that surfaced on Sunday showed a cross-mark branding on her chest and a line below her navel.
The doctors at the private hospital in Deesa had told The Indian Express that the victim was suffering from a heart condition.
“She had a hole in heart and that is why, she had difficulty in breathing. She was brought to our paediatric section with burn injuries, which were treated timely. She was discharged on Monday evening and also breastfed by her mother,” said a doctor who supervised the child.
Inspector J B Acharya, in-charge of Tharad police station, under which the village falls, said that primary investigation has zeroed in on the tantrik who lives in the neighbouring village of the victim. “For now, we have registered a case of accidental death and awaiting the post-mortem report. We can not divulge the name of the accused witch doctor,” said Acharya.
If the post-mortem reports confirm the cause of death as brutality inflicted on herunder superstition, then the district child protection officer will lodge a complaint with the police against the parents and tantrik.
“A legal officer from our team visited the village, along with the police to investigate the matter. As soon as police finish its initial probe, we will file a complaint under The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act against the culprits,” said District Child Protection Officer Naresh Menat.
The incident comes barely two weeks after a year-old boy had succumbed to branding wounds at Rajasthan Hospital in Ahmedabad on June 2. The child too belonged to Banaskantha and had been transferred from Raghuvanshi Hospital in Tharad.