14-year-old typhoid victim dies from alleged torture by faith healer in RupandehiGirl died on March 4. Police have arrested 17 people, including the faith healer named Soniya Reshmi for investigation.
A 14-year-old girl from Sainamaina Municipality-10 of Rupandehi district died allegedly due to the excessive torture inflicted by a faith healer under the pretext of treating her.
The girl who was suffering from typhoid and an ear ailment passed away during the ‘healing’ ritual conducted by the local faith healer named Soniya Reshmi on March 4. The incident came to light when a video of the brutal ritual where the girl can be seen in immense pain started circulating on social media.
The District Police Office in Rupandehi issued a statement on Saturday stating that a detailed investigation is underway into the incident. “The accused faith healer, her mother and 15 others have been detained for investigation,” said Inspector Deepak Kunwar, the spokesperson of the district police office. The police are deeply concerned about the viral video showing physical torture being inflicted on the ailing girl, said Kunwar.
The victim’s family took her to the faith healer on the evening of March 4 after her condition did not improve even after taking medicines from a local pharmacy and a hospital.
The now widely-circulated video shows the faith healer, locally called Mata (mother), pulling the victim’s hair and knocking her down in the name of exorcising evil spirits from her body. The faith healer claimed a witch was behind the girl’s illness and failure to recover.
“The faith healer first lit incense and threw rice grains on my daughter. She then poured cold water on her body and pulled her hair. She tortured my daughter. When we asked her to stop, she told us that my daughter will not feel the physical pain inflicted on her since the torture was aimed at a witch residing inside her,” said Lila Gyawali, the victim’s mother. She claimed that her daughter died due to the excessive torture by the faith healer.
The victim was taken to the faith healer at around 8pm. She died a few hours later. The family members took the body home and performed the funeral rites the same night.
“I recalled that my parents also used to take us to the faith healer when we fell ill. I initially thought that my daughter would be healed after the ritual,” said Gyawali.
Gyawali’s brother took the video while the faith healer was ‘treating’ the ailing girl who was weak due to a long illness. The faith healer can be seen sitting on the victim’s back, pouring cold water on her head and continuously pulling her hair. The faith healer then knocks the girl down repeatedly and decrees her to get up. The victim’s mother can be seen standing near the door watching.
According to the family members, the victim had gone to the local forest area with her neighbours to clear an irrigation channel at around 10am on February 24. But she returned home after three hours complaining that she had severe pain in one of her ears.
“I took her to Hirachandra Hospital two days later as ear drops purchased from a local pharmacy did not work. We returned home with medicines. But she developed a fever that night. We visited a local clinic the next day. The blood test showed that she had typhoid,” said Gyawali.
According to Gyawali, the girl would vomit after ingesting food and had become very feeble. “I called my husband who worked in a Bhairahawa-based factory and then we took our daughter to the faith healer,” said Gyawali.
“I was unaware of the incident until I saw the video. Superstitions took the girl’s life. We could have rescued and saved the girl if we had known of the incident while it was happening,” said Krishna Prasad Ghimire, the ward chairman of Sainamaina-10.