By Taniya Dutta
An Indian woman had her tongue branded with a trident by a witch doctor who thought she was possessed by evil spirits.
Jatha Devi, 25, from Pali in Rajasthan, had been unwell for some time so husband Kishan Jat, a daily wage labourer, took her to a government-run hospital.
But when her condition did not improve, Jatha’s relatives claimed she was possessed by evil spirits and suggested she be taken to a Bhapo or witch doctor.
The witch doctors believe in burning the skin with a hot tong or piece of iron to cure certain illnesses and also claim to have the knowledge to perform exorcism.
A helpless Kishan and her parents Bhanwar Lal and Sanjini Devi, also poor labourers, took Jatha to witch doctor Jairam Bhat on Sunday who mercilessly branded her lips, tongue, forehead and arms for two days with a hot trident.
However, things took an ugly turn when Jatha’s condition worsened as she was unable to utter a word was whimpering with acute pain.
Jatha was immediately rushed to Bangar Hospital in Jodhpur where doctors attending her found her to be suffering from a mental illness – acute psychosis.
Dr Daljeet Singh Ranawat, consultant psychiatrist at the hospital, said: “Jatha is suffering from acute psychosis, a condition in which the patient has hallucinations and jumbled speech, anxiety, confusion and insomnia.
“Luckily, it is curable and the treatment lasts no longer than six months.
“Jatha’s wounds are healing and we have started the treatment for her condition. Initially we will need 10-15 days and then her medication will begin depending on her improvement.”
After doctors treated on her, Jatha’s case was apprised to police who arrested Jairam Bhat.
Senior police officer Simartha Ram said: “Jatha’s husband informed us about the incident and with their statements we formed a team of officers and sent them to the village from where the bhapo was apprehended.”
In several districts of Rajasthan, known to the western world for its majestic palaces and never-ending deserts, a major percentage of illiterate and poverty-stricken people still believe in Bhapos for even basic illnesses.
They happily take their children to be burnt by the witch doctors for fever or stomach ache.
And even though it is illegal and there are cases of fatalities, the witch doctors still perform the ‘branding treatment’ in secret.