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Rajasthan doctor pulls up woman patient by hair, slaps to ‘rid her of evil spirits’

The doctor, Surendra Bahri, was removed from the Barmer district hospital on directions from Rajasthan health minister Kali Charan Saraf

jaipur Updated: Jun 29, 2017 20:53 IST
Mukesh Mathrani
Mukesh Mathrani
Hindustan Times
In the video circulating on social media, a doctor is seen pulling a woman patient (face blurred to protect identity) by her hair and then slapping her, allegedly to exorcise her of evil spirits, at the Barmer district hospital in Rajasthan. (Video Grab)

A government doctor was caught on camera on Wednesday evening slapping a woman admitted to the Barmer district hospital in Rajasthan.

In the video circulating on social media, the doctor is seen pulling the woman by her hair and then slapping her, allegedly to exorcise her of evil spirits.

The doctor, Surendra Bahri, was removed from the Barmer district hospital and asked to report to the health department headquarters in Jaipur, said Dr OP Thakan, additional director (administration). He said the doctor was removed on directions from health minister Kali Charan Saraf.

Barmer’s principal medical officer Dr BL Mansuria has formed a three-member committee to probe the incident at the hospital.

Dr Mansuria said the woman, a resident of Sondi village, was brought to the district hospital on Wednesday morning after she fell unconscious. Her family said she told them that she was cooking food when someone held her hair from the back and snipped it.

At the hospital, Dr Surendra Bahri went to see her in the evening. When he was told by the family about the event preceding her fainting, the doctor mumbled that he would exorcise her, said a witness who did not wish to be named.

“The doctor then lighted incense sticks near the hospital bed and pulled her by the hair in a manner exorcists in villages rid people of spirits,” the witness said.

Dr Bahri was caught on camera doing this bizarre treatment. The woman was discharged later in the evening.

Dr Mansuria said no one from the woman’s family complained to the administration about the treatment but he formed an inquiry committee after it was shown in the video circulating on social media.

Dr Bahri told HT that while treating the woman, he felt a strange heaviness in the head. “I felt dizzy and don’t remember what I did to her,” he said.

For a few weeks, a rumour is doing the rounds in western Rajasthan that some supernatural being cuts hair of women and leaves a mark on their bodies. The rumour was first heard in Bikaner and then spread to other parts of the desert state.

Doctors say the women who report such incidents need psychiatric treatment because they may be suffering from depression or hysteria.

Earlier, Barmer’s superintendent of police Gagandeep Singla appealed to people of the district to not pay heed to such rumours.

“A woman in Jodhpur was brought to hospital where she admitted to cutting her hair herself. If a woman feels unconscious, she should be taken to hospital. If anyone spreads such rumour on social media, they should be reported to police,” he said in his appeal.

Rajasthan State Commission for Women chairperson Suman Sharma sought a report from the Barmer district collector and SP on the district hospital incident.

“Such action by a doctor at a government hospital is serious; such incidents are a blow to the government’s efforts to end witch branding, and promote superstition,” Sharma said.

First Published: Jun 29, 2017 19:39 IST