The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AIDS men at home: no food, no medicine
- Sorry state: Grown-ups to minors, discrimination rules

Burdwan, March 21: This district may be cent per cent literate but…

In the past three months, four AIDS patients in Katwa subdivision were forcibly confined to their homes without food, water or medicines.

The district administration has rescued three of them. Bhootnath Adhikari died in his house a few days ago after going without food or water for several days. Two days after his death, policemen broke open a door and took out the body for cremation.

Harihar Das, Paritosh Roy and Tutul Ghosh were sent to Calcutta for treatment.

Bhootnath was working as a goldsmith in Delhi, where he got infected, but did not inform his family till his colleagues stumbled on the truth. Work mates forced him to leave. Bhootnath returned to Bhallo village under Dainhat municipality in January.

Then it was the neighbours’ turn to train their guns on him. “How can a person suffering from such a dreaded disease be allowed to share water from our pond' He will spread the disease,” the elders had said. Bhootnath was locked inside his one-room house without food, leave alone medical treatment.

The police broke open the door and found his body decomposed. Some villagers said they knew he was dead but did not dare open the door.

Tutul from Tikarganj village under the same municipality spent a month locked inside a house. He was rescued by the police and sent to the School of Tropical Medicine. After recuperating for several weeks, he returned to his village. But fearing that he might be put under lock and key again, Tutul left for Delhi last week. No one has heard from him yet.

Paritosh’s wife left with their two-year-old daughter after learning that working as a tailor in Mumbai, he used to frequent brothels. Six months ago, he returned to Dewanganj village, only to be confined to his house by his mother Sandhya.

“People were ready to pelt stones at him. Had I not locked him, he would have died earlier,” she said.

Employees of Dainhat municipality led by chairman Kalidas Roy rescued him yesterday and sent him to Calcutta.

“The villagers gave stiff resistance but we managed to bring him out,” Roy said.

Harihar, a resident of Makaltore, is also in the city. “I cannot afford treatment in Calcutta but I don’t like to die in my village without medicine,” he said.

Uday Sarkar, the zilla parishad sabhadhipati said a funds crunch was preventing them from carrying out AIDS awareness programmes. “We are still looking at the possibility of launching a bigger drive,” he said.

In a state of about 2,500 AIDS patients, Sarkar sounded a touch too slow in his reaction.

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