JAGATSINGHPUR: Fifty-one-year-old Pratap Mohapatra stares out of the window of his dingy room in Chasikhanda village of Biridi block. Leg chained, face vacant, he watches people pass by as days turn into nights. Thirty seven years have gone by. The world has changed, Pratap’s life has not. It was 1984. His world came crashing down when he realized he has not made it to the top 10 in the high school examination. Everything changed.
Pratap was a meritorious student of Alaka High School in Puruna panchayat and appeared for the HSC examination. After missing the top slot apparently by eight marks, he became so depressed that he attempted suicide. It took a toll on his mind and he became dependent on his family which kept him locked so that he did not resort to self harm.
Poor financial condition of family did not allow much treatment expenses. Pratap’s father, who retired as a school headmaster in Tirtol, spent as much money as he could for his son. After he passed away in 2006, Pratap’s younger brother Pradipta took care of him with his limited resources till he lost his job to the pandemic. Left with no means, he sought government help for Pratap’s treatment and rehabilitation.
Though there is a provision of family pension for disabled, physical or mental, children of government servants, Pradipta said his brother has received a pension of Rs 700 only and been deprived of other benefits like Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana despite repeated requests. “I had applied for family pension for my brother with the District Education Officer in 2013 but no action has been taken even after eight years,” said Pradipta.
Sarpanch of Puruna panchayat Subhadra Bhoi said administrative officials keep saying that they are processing Pratap’s files but he is yet to receive any benefits under any scheme from the government. Contacted, District Education Officer Niranjan Behera said he will look into the matter and ensure appropriate action is taken at the earliest.