I remember reading this article back in 2004 and it kept me disturbed for a long time. I even contacted the Editor asking of ways to help out, but never got a response. I found that email in my archives this morning and it just brought some things back. The Tribune is Haryana/Punjab’s Newspaper in India.
Fatehabad: A teenaged youth lying in the general ward of the local General Hospital with both his arms amputated from near the shoulders and the sufferings of his aged parents tell a story of gross neglect and human insensitivity of those who matter.
Dhanraj, an 18-year-old youth from Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, came here with his friends in search of some work. He got a job in a rice mill on the local Sirsa road. While he was working in the mill on February 28, his both hands were trapped in the belt of a machine. He was allegedly made to work for two shifts in the night and the next morning and the accident occurred when he was working with sleepy eyes. He was taken to a private hospital where both his hands had to be amputated. He also received injuries on his vertebral bones.
Lying unattended in the hospital, Dhanraj asked his fellow labourers to call his parents from Bihar. His aged father, Jhakkarmukhia, reached here with his wife on March 2. As the bills of the private hospital were prohibitive and the family had received no financial assistance from the mill owner, Jhakkarmukhia shifted his son to Rohtak Medical College for treatment.
But soon the family fell short of money and with the compensation promised by the mill owner not coming, Jhakkarmukhia brought his son back to Fatehabad and admitted him in General hospital. The youth and his parents have been lying in General Hospital for the past 15 days.
What to speak of providing proper treatment to their son, the old couple do not have money to arrange for the meals of the threesome. Attendants of other patients in the hospital often provide some chapatis and dal to them, but when there is no such patient in the ward they have to pass the day without meal.
Talking to this correspondent, Jhakkarmukhia alleged that he had approached the mill owner many times for financial aid, but the mill owner told him that his labour was insured with an insurance company and he would get the claim as and when it was sanctioned. His repeated requests of some interim help had fallen on deaf ears of the mill owner, he alleged.
He said that he approached the District Red Cross authorities when he came here. The authorities did provide him ambulance for shifting his son to Rohtak but that was not sufficient to mitigate his woes. No voluntary organisation of the town has come forward to help the family in distress.
The condition of his young son and the plight of family have made Jhakkarmukhia mentally abnormal. While talking about the accident of his son and the plight of the family after the incident, Jhakkarmukhia goes in fits of madness and starts behaving in an abnormal manner.
Dhanraj needs a surgical operation of his spine once his wounds of amputation get healed. That also involves a handsome expenditure as the facility of neuro-surgery is not available at Fatehabad. He will have to be shifted to Hisar or Rohtak for the surgery. But poor Jhakkarmukhia wonders how it would be possible when he does not have the wherewithal to feed the three mouths of his family.