Parents sear epileptic child to cure him

Oct 13, 2012, 06:50 IST | Naveen Nair

When the boy suffered seizures at night, his mother used incense sticks to burn his hands, following the customs of her village; this is the fifth case of child abuse reported in Mumbai in the last 10 months

11-year-old Bhuvan (name changed) was admitted to Sion hospital on October 9 with symptoms of epilepsy and injuries to the nose. During medical examination, doctors in the paediatric ward found the boy had burn marks on both arms. When his parents were questioned, initially the father denied any knowledge and the mother said Bhuvan sustained those injuries when he fell following a severe seizure.

Marks of brutality: Bhuvan, who suffers from severe epilepsy, shows the burn marks on his arms.

Swapan Gadge, Bhuvan’s father, works as a labourer at Bhayander, while mother Shukanta is employed as a maid at several houses to support the family. The victim, who lives with his parents and younger brother at Palghar, has been suffering from epilepsy for the past four years. According to the parents, the intensity of the convulsions has increased recently.

Bhuvan's mother, Shukanta and father Swapan Gadge
Following ‘traditional belief’, his mother, Shukanta, scorched the boy’s hands with incense sticks. (Right) Bhuvan’s father Swapan Gadge says he was away at work at the time

“My son suffered a seizure on Monday night and fell hurting his head and nasal bone. My wife could not take him to a doctor as it was too late in the night and there was no medical help available nearby. I stayed at work that night and in my absence my wife, following our traditional beliefs, scorched my son’s arms with incense sticks.”

When questioned about the burn marks, Shukanta said, “In our village in Nanded, we believe that branding the arms of a person cures him of seizures. So when I could not control the spasms, I followed our customs and used incense sticks to burn my son’s hands. Still the seizures did not stop and they continued till today.”

Bhuvan, who is too afraid to speak, refused to utter a word when we inquired about his health.

Dr Yeshwant Ghabale, paediatrician, Sion hospital, said, “Bhuvan was brought to the hospital with complaints of seizures. We have found that he suffers from severe epilepsy and have sent him for MRA scan.

We can only comment on his condition after the reports arrive.” He added, “When we found the burn marks on the patient’s arms, we suspected a case of child abuse. Both the parents initially feigned ignorance. We then complained to the local police and filed a complaint of child abuse. It was then that the parents admitted to have caused these burns.” Sion police said a probe is on. 

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