The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Snakebite death after tantrik turn

Behrampore, Sept. 3: A nine-year-old boy died last night in a village near here after being bitten by a snake and declared “safe” by the village witchdoctor.

In a bizarre turn of events, his body was taken to a second witchdoctor to try and bring him back to life.

Liton Das of Paschimgramini, barely five kilometres from the district hospital, suffered the snakebite late last evening and was attended to by tantrik Kanu Sardar.

The quack caste a “spell” on the boy and said he would be all right. Moments later, Liton fell unconscious.

The hapless parents then rushed him to the district hospital, where Liton died in about half-an-hour.

Early this morning, irate villagers raided Sardar’s residence and beat him up before police intervened. The district police have begun an investigation into the matter.

Sobbing inconsolably, Liton’s mother Anjana said her son was bitten on his right thumb around 11 pm.

“His father rushed with him to Sardar’s home. For over an hour, the tantrik tried to revive our son. He took off the tourniquet from his finger and fed him some herbs,” the mother recalled.

Liton began vomiting and writhing in pain at Sardar’s house itself but the witchdoctor asked the couple to take him home and feed him ghee.

As the child fainted, father Ananda took Liton on a rickshaw van to the hospital.

According to sources there, when Liton was admitted around 1.50 am, he had passed into a “very critical condition”. Liton was pronounced dead at 2.20 this morning.

In a brazen show of confidence, Sardar said this was his “first unsuccessful” case.

“I treat about a dozen such cases every year. I had understood by my tantrik methods that Liton’s body had been rid of the venom, so I let him go,” Sardar claimed.

After the hospital pronounced Liton dead, a lady tantrik, Bina Roy, tried to bring Liton back to life in the village.

Frantic efforts of one-and-a-half hours produced no result. Finally, Bina declared Sardar’s spell was hampering her efforts and gave up.

The village, so close to the district headquarters, is more prone to turn to quacks, witchdoctors, tantriks and gunins for their medical needs than the facilities provided by the administration.

CPM panchayat pradhan of the Bhakuri II area, Dhiren Mondal, said days ago, he had urged the family of a snakebite victim to rush to hospital.

“The victim survived after treatment with the anti-venom serum. We are trying hard to rid the area of such superstition, but the ignorance continues to linger,” Mondal said.

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