Mentally challenged boy labelled Maoist


Cops ‘rebel’ is an epilepsy patient


TNN, Jun 19, 2010, 05.47am IST

Rameshwar Murmu being paraded by security forces after he was caught

Rameshwar Murmu being paraded by security forces after he was caught

KOLKATA: Police are convinced that 20-year-old Rameshwar Murmu of Duli village near Salboni is a hard-core Maoist. But the youth’s medical documents, copies of which are with TOI, tell a different story.

An electroencephalogram (EEG) test that he underwent on June 6, 2006, at a Midnapore lab found that he was a patient of epilepsy and very slow in his reflexes and reactions.

The test report said Rameshwar has “predominant theta activity while alpha was almost absent” and that “abnormal EEG findings are suggestive of postictal state”. Neurologist Swapan Mukherjee explained the readings. Alpha and theta are two frequencies in the human brain, he said. While the alpha frequency make people alert, quick and fast, theta frequency makes people slow. It’s the theta activity that makes us drowsy or sleepy.

With a high theta activity, a patient cannot run, think or react like a normal person, Mukherjee said. And postictal state confirms severe epilepsy, he added.

The neurologist said that severe epilepsy, without proper treatment (as is the case with Rameshwar) causes regular seizures and leads to memory defects. “It causes depression and even psychosis. Often a patient loses mental balance and gets speech retarded,” said Mukherjee.

Sitangsu Nandi, another well known neurologist, said that the medical report suggests abnormal electrical activity in the patient’s brain. “Electrical activity controls human behaviour. If his seizures started after a fever, it’s possible he suffered encephalitis, which damaged his brain. If such a patient stays untreated for long time, he will definitely be a victim of mental disorder. Such patients then turn mentally challenged,” he said.

Rameshwar has gone without any kind of treatment for over a decade. His father, a marginal farmer, cannot afford it. “It is difficult to believe that someone like him can take part in a gunfight against security forces,” said another neurologist, who asked not to be named.

A copy of the EEG report of Rameshwar Murmu
A copy of the EEG report of Rameshwar Murmu

Police, however, are desperate to make a convincing case for the only “Maoist squad member” caught alive from the encounter site at Salboni on Wednesday. They also claim that one of the slain Maoists is Rameshwar’s brother Ram. “We identified Ram Murmu from a voter’s ID card and cross-checked it,” said a senior police officer.

Rameshwar Murmu has been branded a hardcore Maoist and slapped with the most stringent of charges. According to the police FIR (Salboni PS case no 58), the “unnamed” accused has been charged with sedition (sections 121, 122, 123, 124A of the IPC), the Arms Act (sections 25 and 27) and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (sections 16, 18 and 20). The Midnapore court on Thursday remanded him in 14 days’ judicial custody.

Rameshwar’s parents Bankim and Madina admit that their elder son is named Ram but deny he was killed in the gunfight that erupted right behind their home. “He is away working in Orissa. No one from our village was killed,” Bankim said.

According to Rameshwar’s parents, his first seizure was noticed around 10 years ago following a bout of high fever. “The seizures would last 20-30-minutes. It is very difficult to control him whenever he has a fit. His muscles twitch violently, he throws about his hands and legs and starts frothing,” said Bankim.

The only treatment they could give him was jhar-phoonk by the local witch-doctors (ojhas). In 2005 and 2006, Bankim took him to some doctors and went to diagnostic centres for medical tests. But he could not follow up with the treatment.

“He now suffers from regular seizures. The disease attacks him every full moon and new moon day,” said Bankim. Medical experts say such patients could not be called insane, but they are definitely mentally challenged, who cannot react or speak like a normal man.

Police claim that Rameshwar sustained injuries during Wednesday’s gunfight and a bullet grazed his skin, leaving a bruise. The 20-year-old’s wounds were mentioned before the court to prove that he was at the encounter site. Rameshwar’s lawyer Mrinal Chowdhury rubbished the claims. “He has a linear abrasion on his shoulder, and bruises on his back and head. The last two injuries are old and the injury on his shoulder cannot be from a bullet,” said Chowdhury.

“If police have evidence that he is not ailing and that his brother was among the slain Maoists, why did they leave him unnamed in the FIR? The entire courtroom saw that he cannot speak properly. When he was repeatedly asked for his name, he tried to respond after a long time, that too in a slurring and inaudible voice. He tried to pronounce his name, but the court could not record it,” said Chowdhury.

Police stick to their claim that he is a hard-core rebel squad member but the Maoists refuse to identify him as one of their own. “We never take any physically and mentally challenged person in our squad as a guerrilla needs quick reflexes and good physical fitness,” said a Maoist spokesperson.

Locals of Duli village, who were witness to the encounter, point out that Rameshwar was in a pair of blue shorts and bare-bodied when he was arrested by police. But all the slain male rebels were in T-shirts and trainer pants.

West Midnapore SP Manoj Verma said:”We will get to the truth. We know that he can speak, but we are yet to verify if is he mentally challenged.”

Courtesy: The Times of India

Dated on: 18,19 and 20th June,2010

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One Response to “Mentally challenged boy labelled Maoist”

  1. ajay 3 July 2010 at 8:35 PM #

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