A two-year-old girl from Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district died on Saturday after she was branded with a hot iron rod as part of a superstitious ritual to cure her of an illness.
The practice of singeing, known as ‘raakha’ or ‘daagna’, is rampant in many villages of Bhilwara and neighbouring districts.
The villagers believe that putting a hot object at a specific place on the body opens up the clogged veins and arteries and cures ailments.
“Every month we get at least one or two such cases of children being singed with hot iron rods falsely believing that it would heal them,” said Dr OP Agal, a pediatrician at the Ajmer Medical College and Hospital.
“It is still a popular practice here in Bhilwara district due to lack of awareness among the villagers,” he said.
Police registered a case against unknown persons for hurting the child.
Doctors at the district’s Mahatma Gandhi government hospital said when the victim was brought to the hospital on January 10 they noticed a burnt mark on her upper abdomen.
She was suffering from diarrhea and severe dehydration which resulted in breathing problems, doctors said.
“On further inquiry we found out that the girl was singed with hot iron rods possibly by some local healers,” said Dr Agal.
“By the time she was brought to the hospital, she had already been ill for around four days and crucial time was already lost,” he added.
After her condition further deteriorated, the girl was referred to the Ajmer Medical College and Hospital on January 13, where she breathed her last following renal failure.
Police said the family members maintained that they themselves had “branded” the girl, ostensibly to shield the real culprits.
“We have registered a case for voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons and means and endangering life or personal safety of others under relevant sections of the IPC and the Juvenile Justice Act,” said Sedu Ram, station house officer, Banera police station, Bhilwara.