A 'ghost' fights for life
Jan 19, 2006 - 5:51:37 PM
He seems to be a case of dead man walking. Villagers consider him a 'ghost' as his last rites have been performed. But Raju Raghuvanshi is very much alive and wants to prove it.
Raghuvanshi, 45, is being ostracised by people in his village Katra in Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh as they consider him 'dead'.
Villagers start giggling and whispering among themselves the moment they see him. Many run shouting 'ghost, ghost,' much to the chagrin of Raghuvanshi.
An angry but hurt Raghuvanshi has complained to the police that he was being harassed. But they have expressed their helplessness in the case.
A police official in Mandla said: "We registered Raghuvanshi's complaint but we cannot arrest anybody because no one has harmed or threatened him. We have asked him to approach the court."
An orphan, Raghuvanshi eked out a living by doing odd jobs in the village. Around four months ago the police arrested him for possessing drugs and illicit liquor. He was sent to the district jail in Mandla.
There he suffered some serious stomach ailment and was shifted to the district hospital. When his condition deteriorated further, Raghuvanshi was sent to the medical college in neighbouring Jabalpur district.
Lachchhu, Raghuvanshi's cousin, told IANS: "A fortnight back I was informed by a relative that Raghuvanshi had died in the hospital while undergoing treatment."
Media reports say none of his family members visited Raghuvanshi at the hospital and they believed the version of the relative, who said since his body lay unclaimed for days, the authorities in Jabalpur cremated it.
So after receiving the news of his 'death', his family consulted the village 'panchayat' (council), which suggested that Raghuvanshi's last rites be performed.
As per Hindu customs, Lachchhu conducted the last rites of Raghuvanshi and all male members of his family even got their heads tonsured.
But Raghuvanshi had not died. He returned to the village after being released by the hospital only to find that the villagers were shunning him and considered him a 'ghost'.
Raghuvanshi said: "I am shocked as people run away shouting 'ghost', 'ghost' on seeing me.
"When I met Lachchhu, I realised that I was dead for the villagers."
But if Raghuvanshi did not die in the hospital, whose body was cremated? No one seems to know.
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