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Birhor man battles illness, RIMS turns saviour

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By RAJ KUMAR in Ranchi
  • Published 25.05.09

Ranchi, May 25: At a time when the administration is struggling to protect the dwindling Birhor tribe, a member of this primitive community is fighting a serious illness at RIMS in Ranchi.

Chhotan Birhor, 28, a native of Chalkari village under Topchanchi block of Dhanbad district who had migrated to Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh to work as a labourer, fell ill in March. He was brought back to Dhanbad on May 14 after one of his associates informed his family about his illness.

He was taken to Patliputra Medical College and Hospital in Dhanbad but the doctors referred him to RIMS. Chhotan had been suffering from fever for a long time. Tests revealed that his haemoglobin percentage had dropped to 5.

His wife, Bahamani, is worried that if anything happened to Chhotan, she would not be able to sustain the family. The couple have a two-year-old son, Ramesh. “It will be difficult for us to survive. Whatever I had saved was spent on food over the past two months. It has become difficult for me to feed my son,” Bahamani said.

Chhotan’s illness has become a matter for concern not only for his family, but also those working for the welfare of the Birhors in the state. Ashutosh Kumar, a teacher of DAV School, Dhanbad, who has done research on the Birhor tribe, is among the worried lot.

“Birhors have been neglected for too long and now they are struggling for survival. The Birhor population has dwindled from 2 lakh in 1900 to just 4,000 now. This when the state and Union governments have provided sufficient funds for the development of the tribe,” he said.

He added that two members of the community had died in Dhanbad due to lack of proper medical care. Last month, a pregnant Birhor woman died in Gomia, 70 km from the Bokaro steel city, after waiting for the ambulance for over four hours.

RIMS management has realised the gravity of the situation and is providing free treatment to Chhotan. “He has recovered a lot since he was admitted. His haemoglobin percentage is now 7.5 percent,” said a nurse.

Samar, Chhotan’s elder brother, agreed. “I am satisfied with the medical services being provided to my brother at RIMS. I had never expected that such a good hospital will take in my brother. I am thankful to the hospital authorities,” he said.