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A mother's last resort

T.V. Sivanandan
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Left high and dry: Akkamahadevi ties her mentally challenged son, Basavaraj, to a tree to prevent him from running away.
Left high and dry: Akkamahadevi ties her mentally challenged son, Basavaraj, to a tree to prevent him from running away.

It is a pathetic life for Akkamahadevi who is a helpless witness to the daily suffering of her eldest son, Basavaraj, a mentally challenged boy, who is tied to the trunk of a tree to prevent him from running away.

“What can I do… I do not have any other alternative but to tie my son to the tree, otherwise he will run away,” said Ms. Akkamahadevi, mother of four living in a remote village Madhari on the Maharashtra border in Afzalpur taluk of Gulbarga district.

Since birth, Basavaraj has been mentally challenged and after initial checkups in the Primary Health Centres and Taluk Hospital at Afzalpur, where the doctors pronounced him as mentally ill, the family has not referred him to either the District Hospital or any other higher centre for the simple reason that they could not afford such treatment owing to the poor economic condition.

Ms. Akkamahadevi's husband Tukaram is the only breadwinner for the family working as an agricultural labourer and Ms. Akkamahadevi cannot move out of her house even for an hour since Basavaraj always needs her attention.

The family lives in a single-roomed thatched hut erected on the land borrowed out by Ms. Akkamahadevi's brother who lives next door. This Below Poverty Line (BPL) family has not been provided any benefit due to BPL families like a roof over their head nor treatment facility to Basavaraj.

Ms. Akkamahadevi spends almost every minute with Basavaraj and sleeps with him during the night. Basavaraj, though mentally challenged, is not violent and had not hurt anybody and is loved by children in the neighbourhood because of his genial nature. She said that she had to run from pillar to post to get a certificate from the government doctor that her son is mentally challenged to enable her to apply for pension provided to physically challenged persons. “But for the village elder Sangamnath Malipatil… I would not have got this medical certificate”.

Ms. Akkamahadevi said that she is yet to get any pension from the government for her mentally challenged son. “The pension amount would have helped me in tending my son and also helped to me to take him to a higher centre for treatment… I am confident my son would be cured if proper treatment is provided”.

Her application for pension given to the physically challenged under the National Social Assistance Programme is pending in the tahsildar office in Afzalpur since October 2010 and “officials in tahsildar office said that the pension scheme for physically challenged is closed,” said Ms. Akkamahadevi. No official from the Revenue department was available for comment.

Akkamahadevi has been running from pillar to post to get pension for her mentally challenged son

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