Burdwan, Nov. 27: When 32-year-old Bhutnath Chakraborty died of AIDS at Katwa subdivisional hospital on Monday, his wife Swapna and son, five-year-old Bappa, little realised what lay in store.
A day later, they were denied use of the ponds at their village, Bhallo, about 180 km from Calcutta. The tubewells were off limits for washing and bathing. The mother and child did not know where their drinking water and other essentials would come from. The village grocer had made it clear that he could not risk his business.
Subdivisional officer of Katwa Subir Chatterjee today sent a team, led by the additional chief medical officer of health, to look into the isolation of Swapna and Bappa. Members of the Mangalkot panchayat samiti had reported the series of incidents to the SDO.
Chatterjee said the villagers were so superstitious that when Bhutnath died, there was no one to carry the body to the crematorium. “It was lying at the hospital with no one to take him to the burning ghat. The sabhapati of the panchayat samiti spoke to the villagers and tried to convince them that there was no fear of contracting AIDS by touching a dead AIDS patient,” said Chatterjee. Sabhapati Falguni Mukherjee’s attempts proved futile. He finally got some people on his own to shift the body.
Bhutnath had returned with his family from Mumbai on Saturday. He worked at a jeweller’s workshop there. He was admitted to the subdivisional hospital with high temperature.
The district administration now wants to shift Swapna and her child to Burdwan Medical College and Hospital to have them tested for HIV.