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June 25, 2004

'Parents' abandon 9-yr-old deaf-mute child

From: Indian Express - New Delhi,India - Jun 25, 2004


Indrani Ghosh

Ahmedabad, June 24: IT'S six days since nine-year-old Jyotsna Rawat, a deaf-mute suffering from cerebral malaria, was abandoned at the paediatric ward of the civil hospital—apparently by her own family.

While other children in the ward receive from parents, relatives, and family friends the abundance of loving attention that's so vital an ancillary to recovery, the only people who tend to her are doctors and nurses on duty.

Head shaven to keep off lice, Jyotsna lies on a corner bed. The five changes of dress she has have been provided by nurses, the fruits at her bedside by the family of another child in the ward. She has silence for company.

Doctors and nurses say a man and two women brought her to the hospital on June 18 about 1:30 p.m. The man said he was her father and that, since the day before, she had been suffering from diarrhoea and running a high temperature. She was admitted and assigned the corner bed as she was retching violently.

But no one in the ward is prepared to believe the man and woman could have been her parents.

''The three of them pulled the child across the floor as if she was a sack of wheat,'' says nursing student Nita Patel.

And Lilaben, whose one-year-old son is being treated at the ward, says, ''They couldn't have been her parents or family, the way they were handling the already sick child. They had no sympathy.''

That assumption could prove true. For, barely 20 minutes after the girl was admitted, all three left, never to come back.

Hospital authorities say the man, who completed the admission formalities and gave the girl's name as Jyotsna, daughter of Bharatkumar Rawat of Suraj Nagar, Ahmedabad, suddenly left with one of the women, saying he had to buy a few things for the child.

In another five minutes the second woman, who claimed she was an aunt, slipped away in another five minutes. She said she was going to look for the boy's father.

None of them has returned.

This has made things difficult even for the doctors treating her. Says Dr Mukim Saiyad, a resident in paediatrics, ''Her case is difficult. She suffers from cerebral malaria and seems to be a deaf-mute. But we need her developmental history, which only parents can provide. Otherwise her assessment is incomplete.''

She also needs to take an IQ test for that, but the only clinical psychologist in the hospital is on vacation.

Saiyad says Jyotsna is fine otherwise. She has recovered from diarrhoea and is taking meals properly. The hospital provides milk in the morning, lunch, and dinner. Someone or the other brings her a packet of biscuits every morning.

Authorities say that, as in all such cases, they have informed police posted at the hospital. But police haven't lodged a complaint against the family.

Inspector P.M. Bhaliya of Shahibaug Police Station says neither the hospital authorities nor the policemen posted there have informed him of the case.

What's worse the address given is vague — and could possibly prove false.

© 2004: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All rights reserved throughout the world.