Rape Victim Aruna Passes Away after 42 Years in Coma
MUMBAI: The ward number 4A of the city’s King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital was left vacant for the first time in the last 42 years on Monday. The lifeless body of its lone occupant Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse working with the same hospital, was brought out of the ward at 8.30 am, after she breathed her last.
A face of the nationwide debate on euthanasia, Shanbaug, 67, was rendered in coma ever since November 27, 1973, the day she faced a brutal sexual assault. Sohanlal Walmiki, another employee of the hospital sodomised her after yanking a dog chain around the neck, which snapped of oxygen supply to the brain. The resulting trauma rendered her in a permanent vegetative state. Aruna, who was being fed through tubes, was put on a life support system on Friday after she faced breathing problems. “She was recently diagnosed with a pneumatic patch and was put on ventilator support,” said Dr Avinash Supe, Dean of KEM Hospital. Supe along with Shanbaug’s nephew lit her pyre at the Bhoiwada crematorium in the late afternoon. The hospital staff had taken a stand that they will perform the final rites as her relatives had deserted her. However, her nephew opposed the decision. Finally, in a compromise formula, both came together to lit the pyre.
The nurses at the hospital who took care of her broke down on seeing her lifeless body. “We had planned to celebrate her birthday on June 1 like we did it every year. We will always remember her,” said Anuradha Parade, a nurse who looked after her for more than two decades.
Author Pinky Virani, who penned Shanbaug’s life story, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court for euthanasia for Shanbaug in 2011. The SC rejected the petition. “Everyone is saying finally she is at peace. No, she died every day, a gruesome death and suffered. She was never served justice,” she said.
Virani also criticised KEM Hospital management for staging “tragedy tourism” by allowing people to watch her. “In her death, Shanbaug has given a gift to the nation in the form of the passive euthanasia law,” Virani said.