In a shameful incident, a physically-challenged boy with speech problems has been summarily abandoned on the footpath outside the State-run Sassoon General Hospital — despite being admitted there on September 26 — and has been lying unattended to for the last few days.
Meanwhile, hospital officials claim the polio-stricken boy, aged about 18 years, ‘fled’ from the hospital on September 28, even as police say they could not do much to help him when he was brought to them.
|Pics: Manoj Bidkar
|The boy on the pavement on Thursday
The chain of incidents began on the morning of September 26, when Vinod Jain (44), member of NGO Tera Bachcha Mera Bachcha, found him in a bad condition near the Police Commissioner’s office, when Jain had gone to drop his son to school. “I saw the boy around 7.15 am and informed the police control room.
Soon, beat marshalls reached the spot and summoned a vehicle, as the boy was finding it difficult to walk or stand properly.
They took him to the Pune Railway Station police chowky, under the Bund Garden police station. I was also called there,” said Jain, When asked for his name and address, the boy could only murmur “Pratham” or “Prashant Gokhale”, and “Mahalunge”, which is a village near Balewadi stadium on the Mumbai-Bangalore Bypass Road.
“I requested the cops to shift him to a rehabilitation centre to get him treated, and find his parents. I left after police promised to help the boy,” said Jain.
The fate of the boy might have been different, had Jain not enquired about him in the vicinity of the Police Commissioner’s office again, a few days later. Surprisingly, he was informed by a school peon that the boy had been seen near the Pune Railway Station area again.
|Being transported to the Bund Garden PS after he was found on Sep 26
“I found him again — in a bad condition — opposite the Sassoon Hospital and gave him some wada pav to eat on Thursday morning. When I called the police chowky to ask where they had shifted the child, they could not give me a satisfactory answer,” Jain said.
However, head constable Yusuf Pathan, who investigated the case, said, “After he was brought to us, we bathed him, gave him clothes and fed him.
As enquiries at different police stations did not yield any results, we contacted some NGOs working for special children, but that too was in vain. The boy had become weak and needed medical attention, so I took him to Sassoon Hospital.”
At the hospital, Pathan claims authorities refused to admit him. “I took him to the hospital around 2.30 pm the same day and they admitted him around 6 pm, after much persuasion. I thought the boy is safe now, so I got busy with my work and did not follow up on his case,” Pathan added.
When Mirror checked hospital records, it was found that the boy had been admitted in Ward No 14 on September 26, on the second floor of the crowded hospital. Dr D G Kulkarni, Medical Superintendent of Sassoon Hospital, countered, “The boy just left on the evening of September 28, without telling anyone. We had informed the police about it at the time.”
When asked what happens to patients who have no guardians with them, Kulkarni added, “We have a panel of social workers who are informed about such patients, who in turn liaise with various NGOs for their rehabilitation.”
Jain has given his cellphone number to some vendors who have stalls in the vicinity, where the boy continues to lie on the footpath on a bedsheet, in his torn clothes. “The vendors will feed the child and keep a watch on him for Thursday night. On Friday, retired police officers from our NGO will visit Mhalunge to find out about his family, if they do indeed live there,” Jain said.
►► The boy just left on the evening of Sep 28, without telling anyone. We had informed the police about it at the time
- Dr D G Kulkarni, Medical Supdt, Sassoon Hospital
►► I took him to the hospital and thought he is safe now, so I got busy with my work and did not follow up on his case
- Yusuf Pathan, Head Constable