| Bijli Devi with her son Radhay. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Bijli Devi, a resident of Nandalalpur village, has spent all the money she had saved for the wedding of her daughter but is still helpless to protect the eyesight of her 13-year-old son Radhay Rajak, who was injured in a bomb blast last month.
On January 16, Radhay, along with five other boys, had gone to collect grass for their cattle at a mango orchard on the outskirts of their village, around 45km southeast of the district headquarters and around 270km east of Patna. They found a bag in the orchard. When they tried to open the bag, a bomb hidden in it exploded, killing two boys — Ankit Kumar and Gulshan Mandal, both aged 12 years.
An injured Radhay was initially admitted to Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital. The doctors referred him to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) on January 18.
Radhay’s family members claim that they had to face problems at the PMCH, where the doctors were hostile and demanded money from them to treat him. They also claim that the 13-year-old boy was on the verge of losing his eyesight because of poor treatment.
“We faced a lot of difficulties in Patna,” said Bijli Devi. “BDO Sahib (Kahalgaon block development officer U.N. Verma) accompanied us to the state capital. He stayed there for two days before returning to Bhagalpur after assuring us of help. But no help was forthcoming in Patna and we were ill-treated by the doctors.”
She added that one doctor had demanded Rs 1,500 to operate on Radhay’s eyes but even after paying the money, there was no improvement in his condition. “As we couldn’t bear the expenses in Patna, we returned home on January 26.”
“Before going to Patna, Radhay could count his fingers. But now he is losing his eyesight,” said the distraught mother, adding that the splinter wounds on his body has not cured either.
Radhay’s elder brother Goralal, 18, said the BDO had given them Rs 9,000.
“We also had Rs 10,000, which we had saved for the marriage of our elder sister. But now we have spent all of it for the treatment of my brother at the PMCH,” he added.
Goralal also said after returning to Bhagalpur, the landless family had taken a loan of Rs 3,000 for Radhay’s treatment but now, it is impossible for them to pay back their debtors or get more loans.
District magistrate Prem Singh Meena, who had been asked by the state government to ensure treatment for the victims of the bomb blast, was unavailable for comment. Kahalgaon sub-divisional magistrate Sanjay Kumar blamed Bijli Devi for the misfortunes of the family.
“We sent the patient to the PMCH but the family fled from the health hub without informing anyone, including the doctor. What can we do if a patient does not heed to a doctor’s advice? We cannot force the patient to stay at the hospital,” he said.
Authorities at the PMCH denied having any knowledge about the case. Superintendent O.P. Choudhary said he could not recall who was on duty at the emergency department on January 26 when Rajak and his family left for their village.
“I have no idea which patient you are inquiring about,” Choudhary told The Telegraph. “We get around 200-250 patients everyday in the emergency ward. How can we remember everyone?”