Smita* is just thirteen years old, but she does not go to school or play like other children. For over a year now, this differently abled girl from Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch district has been chained to a bed by her folks – just so that a painful medical condition doesn’t force her to mutilate herself.
Lying helpless on her bed, only two entities offer Smita a glimmer of hope – Lord Hanuman and Bollywood superstar Salman Khan in his Bajrangi Bhaijaan avatar.
According to Smita’s mother Sheela Sharma, her little one recites the Hanuman Chalisa – a Hindu prayer for protection – every day. At other times, she makes fervent appeals to the large-hearted titular character from a movie that remains etched in her memory. “Aap sabki madad karte ho, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, meri bhi madat karon (You help everyone, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, please help me too),” she chants.
Sheela, who resides in a rented house at New Indira Nagar area of Neemuch town with her carpenter husband and two daughters, claims Smita was doing fine until matters took a turn for the worse in mid-2015.
‘Despite being affected with cerebral palsy, Smita used to play with children’
“Despite being affected with cerebral palsy, Smita used to play with children and even ride a bicycle. But in June last year, she began complaining of acute constipation and itching in her anus. We took her to a clinic run by Dr Mahesh Sharma, an Ayurveda practitioner,” Sheela said.
Smita’s condition worsened after the surgery
Dr Sharma diagnosed the ailment as a case of piles, and reportedly conducted a minor surgery for which he charged Rs 3,500. Her condition, however, only worsened after the procedure, alleged Sheela. “Now there is permanent itching in my daughter’s anus, due to which she keeps scratching the sphincter area – resulting in excessive bleeding. As she has a rare blood group – AB-negative – it is impossible to compensate for the blood loss every time. We chain Smita to bed to prevent her from mutilating herself,” Sheela said.
Rs 2 lakh spent on treatment, but all efforts have been in vain
Until now, Sheela has reportedly spent Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh on treating Smita at various hospitals across Indore, Ahmedabad and Udaipur, besides the AIIMS in Delhi. All their efforts have been in vain. Sheela – who has accused the Ayurvedic practitioner of improper treatment – reportedly tried taking the extreme step by jumping off an overhead water tank with Smita a few days ago, but was stopped by locals. “I even raised the issue with Union minister of social justice and empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot and wrote to the CM and PM,” she said.
Dr Sharma denied Sheela’s allegations. “I merely administered an enema to help the girl excrete easily. My treatment has not led to any complication,” he said. However, the medical records of Smita’s treatment seem to suggest otherwise. A document dated June 10, 2015, shows that Dr Sharma carried out a procedure involving the dilation of the sphincter muscles of the child’s anus under local anaesthesia. There’s no mention of any enema being administered.
I’ll look into the matter again: Collector
Neemuch district collector Rajnish Srivastava claimed that the administration has already carried out a detailed investigation against Dr Sharma. “The probe, conducted by the district’s chief medical and health officer, hasn’t found anything wrong with the treatment administered by Dr Sharma. We’ve tried helping the teenager’s cause in all possible ways… but the mother keeps discontinuing her treatment midway. I’ll look into the matter again,” he said.But these accusations and counter-accusations hardly matter to Smita. She remains chained to bed, waiting for her Bajrangi Bhaijaan to come.
(*Name changed to preserve identity)