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Mari Mustfa - Moga village in grip of cancer,hepatitis-C

Dreaded diseases such as cancer and hepatitis-C are killing residents of Mari Mustfa village under Baghapurana subdivision in Moga district of the Malwa region in Punjab rapidly and villagers see a body almost every day. Almost every family has been hit by these diseases and has lost one or two members each.

punjab Updated: Nov 22, 2014 23:20 IST
Surinder Maan
Surinder Maan
Hindustan Times

Dreaded diseases such as cancer and hepatitis-C are killing residents of Mari Mustfa village under Baghapurana subdivision in Moga district of the Malwa region in Punjab rapidly and villagers see a body almost every day. Almost every family has been hit by these diseases and has lost one or two members each.

Either cancer or hepatitis-C has knocked the door of every family.

According to unconfirmed statics, at least 165 people in this village have lost their lives due to cancer and hepatitis-C and the counting is on with two new deaths two days ago. Villagers cremated Surjeet Kaur (70) and a former teacher Geetan Singh (60) on Friday. They died of cancer on Thursday.

As per information, during the last two years, the 'dance' of death has scared villagers, but no representative of the state government or any official of the health department has visited this village.
Standing in the cremation ground of the village, Dr Gurtej Singh, a social activist of Mari Mustfa, who has also lost five members of his own family due to cancer, said "There is rarely any day when we do not visit cremation grounds as the people are dying every day."

As the Hindustan Times observed and visited the several houses of the village, almost 400 people are suffering from severe cancer as well as hepatitis-C and lying on beds. In many homes, the entire family is suffering from cancer.

Dr Gurtej Singh said, "If the 'bhog' ceremony of a deceased patient is held at the village gurdwara one day, the other patient is being cremated on the same day. It is either cancer or hepatitis-C, which is killing us one by one."
"The extremity of the scourge is to such an extent that even three to five members of a family have died either due to cancer or hepatitis-C," he added, with tears in his eyes.

Dr Raj Dular Singh, another social worker of Smalsar village, said that this is the village where people have to hide the fact of suffering of cancer or hepatitis-C by family members. "The villagers fear that their sons may not be married if the decease is disclosed," he added.

Residents of Mari Mustfa said, "On Depawali this year, when kids in every house of the state and the country were celebrating the festival with crackers and lights, a ten-year-old child Jai Parkash Singh of Jaswant Singh's family was being offered prayers during his bhog ceremony. He had died of brain cancer. His father Jaswant Singh is yet to recover from the trauma."

"I spent `13 lakh for his treatment in PGI, Chandigarh, and other hospitals, but we lost the battle against cancer. I approached many officials in the Punjab government but nobody helped us," said 85-year-old Persin Kaur, grandmother of Jai Parkash Singh.

When people were offering last prayers to Jai Parkash Singh, Ajmer Singh of Jangir Singh's family was being cremated. "It did not stop there... flames of the pyre of Ajmer Singh were still on, when Gurdev Kaur of Gurcharan Singh's family died of cancer on Depawali this year. Her cremation was delayed for one day , as Ajmer Singh's cremation was going on," said Dr Raj Dular Singh.

A similar situation could be seen on Thursday when last prayers for former teacher Geetan Singh were being offered and Surjeet Kaur (70) was being cremated in the village cremation ground.

Kaka Singh, 54, who died on Depawali, sold his two-acre land for his treatment but failed to win over death. Manjit Kaur, 45, was also treated at the cancer wing of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, but cancer did not allow her to live anymore. Gurdev Kaur, 51, died of lucaemia while Surjeet Kaur, 60, died of cancer in gall bladder on Thursday. Surjeet Kaur's son Gurbachan Singh is suffering from hepatitis-C.

A one-and-a-half years' old Anadjit Singh and his mother Barinder Kaur are suffering from hepatitis-C while his grandfather Bhajan Singh and grandson's brother Niranjan Singh died of cancer while another brother of Bhajan Singh in Canada is suffering from cancer.

Sukhwinder Singh Brar, former national vice president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), who visited Mari Mustfa on Saturday, said that he would meet deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal with prominent people of the village for helping the poor patients.

Dalit families are the most sufferers as they have nothing to sell for treatment. Such Dalit family of Buta Singh, 47, has no option than to die. Buta Singh died of cancer of gall bladder, his father died of cancer in mouth, Buta Singh's Tayi (aunt) Rani Kaur had a cancer in her uterus. Two real brothers Harbans Singh and Gurjant Singh of Jora Singh's family died of cancer despite regular treatment from PGI Chandigarh.
Major Singh, 52, Mahinder Kaur, 58, Surjit Kaur, 69, Pritam Kaur, 55, Usha Rani, 45, and Nasib Kaur, 43, have been died durig the last few months in this village.

Moga deputy commissioner Parminder Singh Gill said, "I have ordered the local health officials to conduct a special check-up camp at the village. As a first step, we have checked more than hundreds of patients and we are still waiting for blood sample reports of the patients concerned."

On the other hand, Nirmal Singh, 65-year-old bed-ridden patient of hepatitis-C, alleged that when he went to the check-up camp for giving his blood sample, health officials refused to take samples and suggested him to go to Baghapurana hospital. Social worker Dr Raj Dular said, "The check-up camp was only a paper work. Even four days after the health department has completely failed to give reports of blood samples to the patients."

Barjinder Singh Brar, chairman of the Punjab Health System Corporation (PHSC), said, "We are taking serious action regarding Mari Mustfa's problem. I would seek actual facts from the chief medical officer of Moga. If any health official is found guilty to take care the patients properly, he will face departmental action. However, we have asked the London-based organisation "Roko Cancer" for helping the Punjab health department and PHSC. The 'Roko Cancer" will also organise special check-up camps in the second week of December. After that in January, we will start a campaign in the village and I assure that the Pujnab government is committed to save lives of the residents of the village.

Excess of uranium causing cancer, genetic problem

Residents of 55 villages of Moga district have been living under the threat of deadly diseases as they are drinking water contaminated with uranium and other heavy metals that cause cancer and other diseases.
A report of samples taken from 166 villages of the area by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), released a few months ago, revealed that water in 55 villages had uranium above the permissible limit of 15 microgram (mg) uranium in one liter water, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).
Affected villages

First Published: Nov 22, 2014 23:18 IST