Ranidevi is a 23 year old widow living in Ledhgai village in Latihar District, Jharkhand. Ranidevi was married into an agrarian family about four years ago. Little did she know that she would become a widow with a 5-month-old toddler to take care of very soon.
It was the month of July 2014. Ranidevi’s husband, 24 year old Mukhi Singh Khaiwar, was tilling his field to sow maize. It was around 12 noon. As he went about doing his work, Mukhi didn’t see the Russell’s viper in the bushes next to the fields. The snake was disturbed and Mukhi was bitten by it. Initially the family resorted to faith healing. 30 minutes into the ritual, the family realized his condition was deteriorating and they rushed him to the Mission Hospital in Barwadih, approximately 5 km away from Ledhgai village.
At the Mission Hospital, Mukhi was given a tetanus injection and referred to the Mission Hospital in Tumbagada, Satbaruah. No details are available about the treatment received at the Tumbagada hospital. He was later referred to the Government Hospital in Ranchi.
Mukhi’s condition deteriorated in the next few days and he died on the 8th day of the bite.
He was survived by his 5-month-old toddler (now 3.5 years old), his widow Ranidevi, his younger brother and his mother. The family is struggling to come to terms with his untimely death.
This case ended in tragedy only because there was no tertiary level hospital close to the victim’s village equipped for snakebite management. .
Snakebite Healing & Education Society is documenting this and many other tragic cases where victims lost their lives not because they were bitten by a venomous snake but due to lack of treatment. Snakebite is a treatable disease. If there were hospitals in every district that was equipped to treat snakebites and other life threatening diseases, stories such as Mukhi Singh’s would never have a tragic ending.
Written by Priyanka Kadam.