Aruna Shanbaug: A Living Death

Aruna Shanbaug, a teenage girl working at King Edward Memorial HospitalParelMumbai about to get married to a doctor ,Mr.Sundeep Sardesai was in news for quite a time. The lady whose life was devastated on 27 November, 1973 by a tormenter who was none other than the hospital’s ward boy,  Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki. He brutally raped her, choked with a dog chain and left her in vegetative state for 37 years.Her oxygen supply to the brain was cut off.Walmiki stole all the jewelry and fled away.

There is more to this lady’s suffering than this,the man who raped her was convicted soon after 7 years. He was not charged under rape, sexual molestation, or unnatural sexual offence but was caught and convicted for only assault and robbery. The hospital itself was responsible for the charge as its given by the Dean of KEM,late Dr. Deshpande,presumably to avoid the social rejection which might break her impending marriage. The culprit after completing his term has changed his name and is working as a ward boy in some other hospital whereas for Aruna Shanbaug,her poverty-striken family abandoned her.


Amid all this, the Journalist and human-rights activist Pinki Virani has since tried to track down Sohanlal .After seeing her dreadful condition Pinki Virani filed a petition in behalf of Aruna Shanbaug to legalize passive euthanasia in India with argue on “continued existence of Aruna is in violation of her right to live in dignity”.The court rejected her plea on the claims that Ms Virani is to be the next friend of Aruna Shanbaug and has filed this petition on her behalf is not a relative of Aruna Shanbaug nor can she claim to have such close emotional bonding with her as the KEM hospital staff.The plea rejection made the KEM nurses happy as they were looking after the dead soul for so many years and treating like their own family. However, in its landmark opinion, it allowed passive euthanasia in India.

Aruna’s fiancé waiting along her bedside for 4 long years finally gave up under family pressure and got married. He hugged her tight and finally bid goodbye before his marriage.

Meanwhile days went by, staff changed but the lady stuck in room number 4 unaware of the people around, lies isolated at the corner. She grew old, her teeth decayed, unable to move in her permanent Vegetative state; she was just living death there. Finally on 18th May 2015 she was diagnosed with pneumonia and couldn’t survive.

After her death, some nurses wished her room to be a memorial for Aruna. The hospitals are yet to take the final decision on it but for the time being there hung a photo of Aruna Shanbaug thus to remind anyone of what kind of soul was she.

The only person who lost the whole case was Aruna Shanbaug.What did she do? Nothing. Why did it happen to her? No answer. What did she got?Pain.Death. Whenever I think about the dreadful soul the questions just pops out, like, was she able to feel anything? Was she able to digest what happened to her? How did she take her family boycotting her for nothing done from her side? Was she able to accept her fate? Was she even living? She was just breathing. Who will be answering this to her? Who is responsible for her condition?

If ever we could find out, we can liberate a soul. We can release the pain generated when we hear her story .For she was a soul just like you and me 🙂


RIP Aruna Shanbaug.


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