Mumbai: Premature baby needs surgery, but dad denied salary for exposing corruption
Air India engineer who exposed corruption hasn't been paid since April, while infant daughter battles a rare disorder
Born at just 1.02 kg, Eliza is no regular baby. She was born an entire two months early after her mother fell into a coma due to a high level of stress. The source of stress is her father's job. Anand Waghmare, 42, an aviation engineer with Air India, has not been paid his salary for seven months, allegedly in harassment for being a whistle-blower.
When she was born, doctors had thought Eliza would not survive more than five days, as she had developed intra-ventricular haemorrhage (brain bleed). Now, four months old, the infant survived miraculously, but is still in a critical condition and needs surgery.
Once again, her father's job has cast a shadow over the family. While his salary is still being withheld, Air India has demanded that Anand appear for a disciplinary hearing today, leaving his wife and child in such delicate health.
Baby Eliza needs a second surgery to relieve the excess cerebrospinal fluid trapped in her head
Anand said, "Eliza's weight has gone up to 3 kg now, but she has to undergo another surgery soon, as the cerebral fluid accumulating in her brain is getting infected. The size of her head is bigger than her body. Doctors have given up hope of any recovery unless the surgery is performed soon. This requires yet more money and patience."
This will be Eliza's second surgery. Neurosurgeons had conducted a supra major surgery on her brain when she was just one month old, and the little girl was only discharged a few weeks ago. At the time, Anand had managed to meet the medical expenses thanks to contributions from family and friends.
Anand joined Air India in 2006 and in 2014, he reported alleged corruption at the top echelons of the management, including charges of nepotism, and violation of labour laws. He alleged that since then, he was victimised and harassed by Air India officials, including an abrupt transfer from Mumbai to Nagpur on January 16.
With Baby Eliza's health in such a delicate condition, Anand and Jayanti Waghmare have sent their son Ayush to his aunt's home in Bhopal
"My wife, Jayanti, was in the third month of pregnancy and had no one to take care of her and my young son. I requested the department to allow me stay in Mumbai, but my plea went unheard. Even as I reported for duty in Nagpur, my wife developed Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH). On February 25, she called me back to Mumbai, so I applied for leave," said Anand.
On June 17, his wife suffered an attack of eclampsia (high BP leading to convulsions and coma). On June 19, doctors at KEM said they had no option but to induce labour, that they could save either the baby or the mother. Fortunately, both Jayanti and Eliza survived. "I have already put everything at stake by becoming a whistle-blower, but instead of appreciating my efforts to stop corruption, my company took disciplinary action against me for not reporting to work and stopped paying my salary of R65,000 since April," said Anand.
The Air India Disciplinary Inquiry, which has been postponed thrice since August, has now been slated for today. Anand stated he was unavailable due to his daughter's poor health, but the committee did not budge.
"My request was not accepted so I will face the disciplinary committee on Monday," he said, adding that he has meanwhile filed two writ petitions before the Bombay High Court in the matter. His lawyer Rajeshwar Panchal said, "Instead of pulling up the wrongdoers, the Air India management only made Anand's life miserable and stopped paying his salary. The HC has already given him interim relief from being evicted, otherwise he would have been on the streets with his family. Our fight will continue until he gets justice."
'Stress led to complications'
Dr Y S Nandanwar, prof and unit head of the obstetrician and gynaecology department at DY Patil Medical College, said, "The tension at [her husband's workplace] might have aggravated her underlying blood pressure issue... which might have led to premature delivery." Dr D P Muzumdar, prof at KEM's Neurosurgery Department, said, "The baby is not fit for surgery yet, we have to wait for the infection to settle down. Her brain is already compromised and she has multiple issues that could be life-threatening." He confirmed that the complications were a result of premature delivery.
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