Superstitious beliefs took the life of a five-year-old boy whose parents submerged the child in the Ganges River in Haridwar as a last resort for his cure from cancer. Taking place on the banks of Har ki Pauri on Wednesday, the incident resulted in the death of the child followed by police custody of those involved.
The little boy, suffering from blood cancer at a terminal stage hailed from Northeast Delhi where he was undergoing treatment at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. After medical professionals informed the family about the boy’s worsening condition and incurability of the disease, the parents turned towards Haridwar in hopes of a “miracle cure” owing to a dip in the holy Ganga River, according to Superintendent of Police, Swatantra Kumar Singh (city), reported ANI.
A video of the incident, allegedly featuring the boy’s aunt Sudha dipping him in the river while the parents chanted mantras was circulated on social media. In another video, a woman is seen laughing and saying, “”Ye bacha khada hoga ye mera vachan hai, meri Ganga maiya ka vachan hai (this boy will get up. This is my promise and Ganga Maiya’s promise” while sitting on the ghat with the body.
According to sources, it was not until three minutes after the boy was submerged in the water, that a few bystanders sensed disturbance and further went to the site, pulling him out. An eyewitness of the incident described the terrifying act by adding, “I screamed, and a man pulled the child out of his aunt’s grasp with force. Despite our best efforts, he did not appear to be alive.”
The police arrived at the location shortly upon being informed of the incident and rushed the child to the district hospital where doctors pronounced him dead. Police officials said that they questioned the parents but avoided detainment for the timing as they were still in a state of shock. However, their Delhi-hired driver claimed during interrogation that the boy had probably passed away during their journey to Haridwar.
“The family asked me to bring them for Ganga ji darshan and I left Delhi around 9.20 am. There were five members, including the boy and his parents. The boy, wrapped in a blanket, was in their lap and when I asked them, they said the boy was suffering from blood cancer and they wanted to bathe the boy in Ganga,” said the driver.
This claim was further asserted by SP Swantantra Singh who said, “However, it appears that the boy was already dead when he was brought here. We are waiting for the postmortem report and will take necessary action based on that.” The police have registered a case and further investigation is underway.
A personification of the ‘Goddess’ Ganga, the Ganges River is one of the most holy sites in Hindu tradition, where many people believe that bathing on certain occasions cleans a person’s soul of past sins and sometimes believe it as a cure for illnesses.