KOLKATA: The local administration in Nagrakata, in Alipurduar district of West Bengal, has decided to take responsibility for the medical treatment of a four-year-old mute boy with deformed legs and mental disability, after it came to light that he was being kept by his poor parents in a pit to straighten his legs as they could not afford his treatment.
On the advice of locals, tea garden workers Bharat Oraon and Renuka Oraon had dug a 1.5-foot by 0.5-foot pit in the ground outside their quarters in Luksan tea estate, and they would put their son Nehal in it before going to work. Their daughter Neha, aged nine, has never attended school and was assigned by their parents to look after her brother the whole day.
“Nehal was born as a specially-abled child. We hardly get two meals a day and don’t have money for his treatment. Despite pleading for medical assistance, we did not receive any help. We even called a local ojha (traditional healer) to cure him through black magic, but that did not succeed. Then some locals suggested this method to straighten his legs and we thought of trying it,” said Bharat Oraon.
Nehal was sent to a hospital for treatment after local officials visited the family on Tuesday.
“The child has special needs, which will be taken care of. We will extend all help to the family. A special educator will be appointed for the child, and his elder sister will be admitted to school,” said Nagrakata Block Development Officer Smrita Subba. Poverty leading to malnutrition and deaths is common in the tea gardens of the area.