Three days after 12-year-old Yogita, a resident of Sabalkhed village in Beed, died of heat stroke, the parents are still struggling to understand what went wrong.
Huddled in a corner of the family’s two-room house, the mother, Manisha, said, “I do not know what happened to my little girl… Lack of water, hot weather, that’s a way of life here. But my 12-year-old was so happy and excited to see her brother return for summer holidays from a school in Alandi… Only recently she had danced so well to the tune of a song from Marathi film Lai Bhari at a school function.” The father, Ashok Desai, said little as he sat staring at the floor.
The state health authorities have prima facie admitted that Yogita died due to heat stroke and dehydration. “There have been two deaths at Nanded, one each at Aurangabad and Beed, and now Yogita. A total of 14 patients across Nanded, Aurangabad, Beed and Chandrapur have been admitted to district hospitals due to heat-related illnesses,” Dr Kanchan Jagtap, joint director, state health department told The Indian Express.
Relatives, however, denied reports about the girl being made to fetch water thrice from a handpump 500 m from her home, when the temperature was around 42 degree Celsius.
Manisha said both her children were playing in the house, while she was at the cattle shed, nearly 3 km away.
“There was no school on Sunday and we were playing inside,” said Yogesh, a Class IX student.
“She was underweight at birth… She was malnourished, but had improved over time,” said the father, Ashok.
On Sunday (April 17), he had gone to Ahmednagar, but had returned by the time Yogita complained she was feeling sick. She was admitted to Gurudutt hospital, 3 km from Sabalkhed. She died in the early hours of April 18.
Dr Hanuman Kakade, who treated her, said in his report that the girl died due to heat stroke and dehydration. “She was brought on Sunday evening (April 17) with high fever, loose motion and headache. She had hypotension and was immediately put on fluids. But we could not save her,” Dr Kakade told The Indian Express. The district health officer, Dr Sandeep Sangle, too said that prima facie it appeared that Yogita died of heat stroke and dehydration.
At Kunte Phal primary health centre, 10 km from Sabalkhed, medical officer Dr Vishaal Kale said that due to rising temperature and water scarcity, they were getting 10-15 cases of dehydration in the OPD every week.
Yogita’s friends, Dakshata and Prateeksha, who had seen her being taken to hospital, said: “We told her to return soon…Our school will reopen after holidays, but Yogita will not be there.”