Already Forgotten- Aruna Shanbaug

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First of all what is euthanasia. Euthanasia can also be termed as assisted suicide, physician-assisted suicide (dying), doctor-assisted dying (suicide), and more loosely it is termed as mercy killing, which basically means to take a deliberate action with the express intention of ending a life to relieve intractable suffering. Some people also interpret euthanasia as the practice of ending a life in a painless manner. Many also disagree with this interpretation, because it needs to include a reference to intractable suffering.

Well this was just an introduction to Euthanasia. My motto is to discuss the very controversial case of Aruna Shanbaug. Lying on an iron bed in a dark room in an murky corner of a municipal hospital mocks at all our complacencies and clichés about life, death and the presumed dignity of both. Aruna Shanbaug virtually non-existent for everyone except a small band of nurses looking after her and Pinki Virani, the angel-stranger who flapped her wings in the void for 25 years, in vain.

Aruna Shanbaug 62, was a staff nurse with the KEM Hospital till when she was assaulted and "sodomised" by a ward boy Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki on the evening of November 27, 1973. And the police failed to book Walmiki for rape or sexual molestation or even "unnatural sexual offence" as sodomy is described as in legal parlance -Walmiki got away with lighter sentence (seven years' jail term) for attempt to murder and for robbing Aruna's earrings in 1974 and he walked out of the jail in 1980, a year early as the trial court had taken into consideration that he had served one year in lock-up before he came to be sentenced. While Aruna is lying in a "Permanent Vegetative State" (PVS) for last 37 years and the criminal behind it is roaming freely in our country.

Ambitious and sprightly, Aruna, a 25-year-old woman with a fulfilling profession, was about to get married when she was assaulted and raped by a subordinate who just wanted to quench his thrust. Because she could not testify she has been living unhappily ever after whereas the pervert got away with light sentence and has been living happily thereafter.

And whereas what has been offered to Aruna – “Passive Euthanasia”. Is this all fair enough?

I feel It is more important at the moment to reopen this case and provide justice to Aruna, instead of wasting time and energy on deciding if Aruna deserves to live or die. Perhaps this is why she has been clinging on to her life all these years - to see Sohanlal Valmiki brought to justice. It is shameful and shocking to know that a democratic country like India can have a judicial system that lets off a rapist like Valmiki without even charging him for sexual assualt. I shudder to think such a beast of a man is walking around in our midst with impunity

This was just a story about Aruna and we don’t know how many such Aruna’s are lying on beds. I salute to perseverance of Mrs. Pinky Virani and all the nurses and doctors at the KEM Hospital. My sincere prayers to alleviate pains of Aruna.

Parimal Tripathi is a volunteer content writer for Jaagore. To learn and speak about issues on street children, environmental pollution, garbage disposal, corruption, volunteering, volunteer work, community services, NGOs, Anti Corruption in India, social and civic issues visit

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