Active euthanasia, mercy killing, assisted suicide, whatever may be the term used, to me are one and the same – relieving an individual of the never ending misery of a critical illness at its terminal stages and allowing a safe and dignified passage into the inevitable. Religious leaders across India, didn’t seem to be too happy with the verdict, still clinging on to the 16th century idea of only God has right to take our lives and no one else. My simple submission is then why are more and more religiously instigated people as well as state owned military forces being inspired to end millions of innocent lives across the world?
Aruna, a young nurse and fiancée to a medical practitioner at KEM, got brutally raped, tortured and strangulated by a ward boy, passed into a semi comatose state. Even 37 years after the incident, she never recovered from her vegetative state. Aruna’s fiancé moved on to get married and settled in the USA. The ward boy served a term of seven years for attempted murder (he wasn’t convicted of rape, apparently to save Aruna of social ostracism she might have faced, once she recovered and rejoined the mainstream! ... outrageous to say the least!). Incidentally, the ward boy after having served his term, returned to harm Aruna, to avenge his sentence. Batches after batches of trainees at KEM nursed Aruna, under the supervision of senior matrons (who also consider Aruna an iconic representation of their fight against abuse and violence against women staff in hospitals and medical centres) gaining an excellent hands-on training on treating terminally-ill patients. Activists captured head turning headlines filing petitions and giving bytes. The media drove a commercially rewarding frenzy and the controversy loving Indians got another issue to raise storm over their proverbial coffee cups. The only person who seems to have faced the entire ordeal is Aruna herself. Everyone else seems inclined to prove that Aruna still has reasons to breathe. Everyone else seems to have a reason or the other for Aruna to live on, save Aruna Shanbaug herself. Is this irony of fate or a fallacy of life?
I am still beleaguered to accept the fact that this verdict of no one has the right to actively terminate anyone else’s life has been pronounced by the state’s legal system which still upholds capital punishment as a mode of punishment and social retribution. Poetic justice, indeed!!
Pics courtesy: The Times of India