Monday, May 18, 2015

Aruna Shanbaug: No more darkness and pain, free at last!

[image credit:]
It was in November 27, 1973  when then 25 years old Aruna Shanbaug was on duty as a junior nurse at the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Parel, Mumbai when she was brutally sodomized by a ward boy that goes by the name of Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki. Aruna was strangled by her assailant using a dog chain cutting off oxygen supply to her brain and leaving her in a vegetative state and cortically blind since then. Her unconscious body was discovered in the hospital basement by a cleaner the next day splattered all over with blood.
Her assailant was charged not of the case of rape or sodomy but of robbery and attempted murder. The facts of the case were concealed by the complainants maybe to avoid social rejection of the young nurse. Walmiki was sentenced to double seven-year term in prison and was suspected to have changed his identity in order to hide from the public eye.
Aruna since then was lying in a hospital bed in vegetative state. And for over 42 years, hospital staff took turn watching over her and keeping her alive. In December, 2010, Aruna's case caught the attention of Pinki Virani, an activist-journalist who sought the medical condition of Aruna from the hospital to plead euthanasia for her case to India’s Supreme Court.  Under the Court’s directive, Aruna’s medical condition was affirmed being that of a permanent vegetative case. But in February of 2014, a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court have observed some wrong interpretation and inconsistencies in the judgement of Aruna’s case based on the constitution leading to the rejection of the euthanasia plea.

In the early days of May this year, Aruna developed pneumonia and was later moved to the intensive care unit of the hospital and put on a ventilator. She died last May 18 freeing her body from the almost perpetual pain and darkness for over 42 years. A moment she probably have wanted despite what her body have endured for so long. Go forth Aruna! There'll be no more pain and darkness for you to wherever you will go through from hereon.

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