Doctors aren’t sure if Mintu Barman, a victim of the Nalbari twin blasts, will win the battle against death. If he does, he isn’t likely to come out unscathed from another war – of custody between his estranged parents.
Mintu, an 18-year-old vegetable vendor, was one of some 50 people injured in the twin blasts that killed eight last Sunday. He hasn’t regained consciousness since.
His critical condition forced the Nalbari authorities to shift him to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH), 60 km east, hours after the blasts. He was subsequently moved to a private hospital, where he is being kept in the ICU following a marathon surgery to remove splinters from his chest and abdomen.
Barely 24 hours after he underwent treatment as an “unidentified person”, a woman named Rekha Bora claimed Mintu was her son. She had apparently eyed the Rs 50,000 the Assam government announced for each of the seriously injured.
The hospital authorities called Bora’s bluff after Mintu’s real mother, Rinku Barman, reached the hospital on Tuesday. But they had no idea they were in for a bigger trouble with the boy’s father, Joydeb Barman, landing up on Wednesday.
The hospital lobby turned into the Barman’s battleground, as one parent refused to let the other take custody of Mintu. “He dumped us when our only son was a toddler, leaving us to fend for ourselves. I have swept floors and washed clothes and dishes from house to house to make both ends meet; he has no right to take him away from me,” said the mother.
“I am his father, and I will take him home,” said Joydeb, now jobless.
Baffled by the turn of events, the hospital authorities thought long to arrive at a solution. “Since the government asked us to treat Mintu, we will hand him over to officials unless he is fit enough to go home to whoever he wants to,” said the hospital’s PRO, Manoj Deka.