Aruna Shanbaug – A battle of 42 years

As Aruna Shanbaug left her body and made a journey to heaven, we not only should show pity or feel bad but our head goes down with shame.

At the age of 25, when everyone is high on enthusiasm, dreams and enjoying life, Aruna had to go through a horror which changed her life once and for all. Little she knew what was awaiting on the night of 27 November 1973. A girl who was very excited about her upcoming marriage with a medic in the hospital, was sexually attacked and assaulted by Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki, a sweeper on contract at the King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai. Sohanlal attacked her while she was changing clothes in the basement by choking her with a dog’s chain and sodomizing her. This inturn had cut off the oxygen supply to the brain and left her cortically blind. She was left in a floor with spattered blood after being raped.

When the police case was registered, the court convicted Sohanlal for assault and robbery but not for rape or sexual molestation as the doctors at that point of time thought it was better for Aruna as she would have to face social stigma. After serving jail for not the real crime, Sohanlal was never tracked down but it is said that he moved to Delhi and was working in some hospital.

Since then, Aruna was on vegetative state where she was under partial coma stage but had no awareness because of severe brain damage. She was in this stage for 42 years before leaving all of us in shame.

Pinki Virani, journalist and a human right activist approached the supreme court in 2011 after seeing the unbearable pain of Aruna to end the life but it was initially rejected but later on , passive euthanasia (withdrawal of life support) was legalised.

After fighting a battle for 42 years, Aruna passed away on 18th May, 2015. She will always be remembered a brave girl and our head will go down in shame. She was left deserted by her parents and family all these years.

It is imperative to understand that anyone could be Aruna in this case. What was her fault and why she had to bear all this pain for so many years? Imagine yourself lying on a bed with brain not functioning, not able to speak, not able to eat, not able to live. Could you resist such trauma after the horrifying night. The court verdict of charging Sohanlal for assault and robbery – does it justify the pain; her family leaving her alone – does it justify her to survive? The only and most important thing that kept her at bay was fight taken by Pinki and the hospital nurses who continuously supported her till her last breath.

Sohanlal, today might be having a family and living in peace by taking advantage of Indian judicial system but didn’t God also had mercy for Aruna? Isn’t Sohanlal a threat to the society?

I feel it was good for Aruna to get free from the clutches of pain. May your soul rest in peace Aruna.

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