For the past five months, Neetu had not been able to leave a hospital bed because she had given birth to a girl child. On Thursday, she finally left — only to be taken to a local crematorium.
Neetu, 20, died on Thursday at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.
Neetu had been lying in a bed in the nursing home at Barrackpore for over four months. She had been abandoned by husband Surendra Pratap Sau, a businessman, the day she gave birth to a baby girl. He had refused to clear the nursing home bill or take Neetu home.
Surendra never saw his daughter, whom Neetu’s father has fondly named Sonababu.
Waiting for a response from her husband took its toll on Neetu. A cardiac patient, she was reduced to a nervous wreck and had to be put on a ventilator.
In the first week of March, when the state women’s commission intervened, Surendra came to the health clinic and took Neetu home, without even sparing a glance at his daughter.
The nursing home authorities had waived the dues to allow Neetu to return home. She was shifted to the Chandernagore sub-divisional hospital.
When members of the women’s commission visited the hospital and found the facilities inadequate, they instructed Surendra to take her either to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital or SSKM Hospital.
Neetu was shifted to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on March 7 and put on life-support system.
“We tried our best. She was brought here in a very critical condition. We requested her in-laws to keep her company and give her some sense of comfort. But they did not show any interest,” alleged Rabindranath Chatterjee, superintendent of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.
“They (her in-laws) did not contact us even after her death. My father went to the hospital as usual to check on Neetu and learnt of her death from the hospital authorities,” said Pankaj Sau, Neetu’s brother.
Trouble broke out when Pankaj reached Surendra’s residence at Champdani, in Hooghly.
“Pankaj and Neetu’s other relatives were manhandled by Neetu’s in-laws,” said Debasish Chakroborty, officer-in-charge of Bhadreswar police station.
But her in-laws did perform all the rites and rituals. “She was my wife and a member of our family. Her last rites should be performed properly, so that her soul may rest in peace,” Surendra told the hospital authorities. When asked about his daughter’s future, he kept mum.
Members of the state women’s commission, however, said that Neetu’s death was “most unfortunate” and demanded that Surendra take back his daughter.
“We had given him a deadline to take back his daughter willingly, but if he fails to do so, we have to look into the matter,” said Bharati Mutsuddi, a member of the commission.
Five-month-old Sonababu, meanwhile, remains oblivious to the string of tragedies that has befallen her in her infancy.
Being looked after by her maternal grandparents, little Sonababu will probably have to learn to live without her parents.