A tribal quack was arrested in Odisha’s Nabarangpur district on Friday for allegedly branding a 26-day-old baby with hot iron nails to “cure” him of his stomach ailment.
Nabarangpur District Collector Rashmita Panda told The Indian Express that police have arrested Purusotttam Ghasi, the quack who allegedly branded the infant a fortnight ago at Butipadar village of Papadahandi block.
Police said Rukmani Kirsani, an anganwadi worker, had called for the services of the quack from a nearby village after her baby’s stomach swelled. Ignoring the infant’s wails, the quack seared the baby’s chest at several places with hot iron nail as “treatment”.
However, the mother claimed that she wasn’t in the village at the time and her in-laws called the quack. “When I arrived, my boy was screaming in pain. We then rushed him to the hospital for treatment,” she said.
Panda said currently they aren’t planning to take any action against the mother, as the infant needs her. “On Saturday, the tehsildar would visit her village and inquire into the incident,” said Panda.
Officials at the district hospital said the family did not bring the infant to the hospital for almost a fortnight , during which his condition deteriorated. The boy’s family brought him in only on Thursday, they said.
The infant is undergoing treatment at the district headquarters hospital, but has reportedly developed pneumonia. Doctors said he had developed some problems since birth and was unable to suckle.
In a similar incident, in May this year, a woman tribal quack was arrested for allegedly instigating a couple in Kosagumuda block of Nabarangpur to inflict serious burn injuries on their six-month-old child. Sridhar Jani and Rupadei Jani of Biriguda village of Papadahandi block had approached Padma Bhatra for treatment of their child.
The quack had seared the baby with a hot iron rod.
And last month in Odisha’s Malkangiri district, a 20-day-old tribal child was seriously scalded by a ‘witch doctor’, who branded the child’s abdomen with red hot bangles. It was only after the child’s condition deteriorated due to the burns that the parents started looking for proper medical help.
The state government is reportedly mulling a revamped health policy for Nabarangpur, where there is only one government doctor for its population of 27,000, and several other underdeveloped districts by early next year.