Ganjam, January 29, 2021: An ostracised Odisha couple performs the last rites of their seven-year-old son in an unfortunate incident in Ganjam district. Their son was suffering from an immunological disorder and so the whole family was ostracised from the village as their neighbors considered the child as a bad omen.
The boy suffers from giant congenital melanocytic nevi which have caused hairy growth on his face, chest, and right hand. Along with the extra hairs, he developed wounds all over his body after he underwent surgery in 2018. After the child was discharged following fresh hospitalization on December 29, the neighbors asked the parents to conduct the symbolic last rites.
Statements of the parents:
The child’s mother, Mamata Nayak said, “after we came back, the villagers tonsured him under a tree. They said my child would bring bad luck to the village. Then a symbolic ritual was conducted like it is done when someone dies.”
His father, Ram Chandra Nayak, continued that he was asked not to touch him (the child) and keep him under a tree. “I was asked by the villagers to host a community feast as part of the ritual. As I had no money, I borrowed ₹10,000 to host the feast. Only after that, the villagers allowed me to keep him at home.”
Statement of the doctors about Odisha couple performs:
Pediatrician Dr. Alekh Pradhan, who treated the boy, said he suffers from immunological deficiencies. “There were maggots on his head and there were abscesses in his body filled with pus. I could bring his infection under control. But he needs proper treatment, and it can be done in hospitals like AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences)”, said the doctor.
Actions taken by the officials:
Ganjam district collector Vijay Amrita Kulange had not only sanctioned ₹10,000 for the boy’s treatment but also inquired about the forceful action without FIR.
“The sub-collector advised the father to apply for assistance from CMRF (Chief Minister’s Relief) Fund.”
Kulange said the father did not complain about ostracisation or purification rituals. “I have instructed the Tahsildar and inspector of the local police station to inquire and report.”
Giant congenital melanocytic nevus:
Giant congenital melanocytic nevus can be defined as a melanocytic lesion present at birth that will enlarge and reach a diameter ≥ of 20 cm in adulthood. The condition is rare and also brings severe complications such as malignant melanoma, affects the central nervous system, and has a major psychosocial impact on the patient and his family due to its unsightly appearance.
Treatment may include surgical and non-surgical procedures, psychological intervention, and/or clinical follow-up, with special attention to changes in color, texture, or on the surface of the lesion.
The only absolute indication for surgery in a giant congenital melanocytic nevus is the development of a malignant neoplasm on the lesion.