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As Quack Draws Media Focus On Unnao, Residents Say They Have More Issues Than Just AIDS

While a section of the media is flocking the village to get another exclusive in their hat with special stories, the residents here are quite miffed with this attention.

Pranshu Mishra | CNN-News18

Updated:February 16, 2018, 8:06 AM IST
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As Quack Draws Media Focus On Unnao, Residents Say They Have More Issues Than Just AIDS
Picture only for representation

Bangarmau (Unnao): As the sun sets, the light of a half-melted candle intermittently blows up shadows on a pale wall of Ramsevak’s house. Perhaps, the dim light is the only source of brightness for most people in his village, who suddenly came into limelight after a quack was held on charges of infecting residents with HIV through a single syringe.

While a section of the media is flocking the village to get another exclusive in their hat with special stories, the residents here are miffed with this attention.

“Most of us don’t even have electricity connection. There are many things to cry over. Why does media keep asking us about Rajesh Yadav? His arrest has only been crucial for some. But for people like us, he was our savior for at least 12 years. While the government health centres prescribed expensive medicines, Yadav would cure us for just Rs 20 or 40,” says 25-year-old Ramsevak as he sits next to his ailing father in a dimly lit room.

Stretching out his frail hand to grab a cup of tea, Ramsevak’s father nods his head in agreement. “My entire family has been visiting the ‘doctor’ for nearly a decade. Never has such a thing happened,” the father, who has been diagnosed with HIV, says.

Even as the longest six-lane highway in the country, Lucknow-Agra Expressway, has come up barely a kilometre away from Unnao district’s Bangarmau, the ‘modern’ facilities have done little to improve the condition of the residents.

The basic facilities in some of the villages here are in shambles. Chakmirapur village resident Ramsevak points out that the health officials may be proud to have finally discovered a quack in the area, but he is not alone.

“Sometimes it amuses me to see media’s fascination with Yadav. If they could only dig into the roots, they would find many of our ‘doctors’ without medical degrees. It’s only after such incidents that reporters and health officials make an effort to look into our plight. But otherwise the entire health facility in the area is rotting. The CHC doctors ask us to buy medicines that cost nearly Rs 200. How can we afford it when we can barely manage our daily bread? That’s the reason most of us prefer ‘doctors’ that charge only Rs 20,” another Chakmirapur resident says.

In Chakmirapur alone 10 people have been diagnosed with HIV, the youngest being an 8-year-old. The child's father too had AIDS and passed away a few months ago. While government claims that 35 have been infected with HIV in Bangarmau, unofficial figures put them as high as 58.

Days after the incident, none of the elected residents have bothered to visit Chakmirapur, Kirmidiyapur and Premganj villages.

Residents say that while local BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj was content after issuing a statement, the “concerned” health and government officials have neither held an awareness campaign or helped villagers fight their problems and social stigma.

However, Unnao DM Ravi Kumar claims that the situation is being constantly monitored and the UP state aids control society and other agencies responsible have been asked to open proper test and awareness centre in the region.

The officers said that patients are being assisted through the local CHC. Surprisingly, when News18 arrived at the CHC in Bangarmau, the claims turned out to be false.

While officials are busy in shifting their responsibilities, residents here are struggling to get back to their normal lives without the glaring attention, which they say are of no use to them.

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| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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