GHOLA: The HIV-positive couple, who was thrown out of their home here on Saturday, are yet to come out of the trauma that they had to undergo.
A routine blood test during the pregnancy of Ruma (name changed) in 2007 revealed that she was HIV-positive. Shortly afterwards, her husband Binoy (name changed) also tested HIV-positive. Ever since, Binoy’s brother threatened the duo of dire consequences every now and then if they did not leave the house they shared with him.
“My brother in-law used to abuse me maligning my character. For the last few years, I have not even shared the common washroom,” she said.
“No amount of reasoning would convince him that we were taking all the necessary precautions since we also have a child. He and his wife would abuse and even physically assault us. Finally, on Saturday afternoon, my brother-in-law summoned a few locals who are known to him. After my husband returned from work, they caught hold of him and threw him out of the house. When I rushed to his rescue, one of them hit me on the head with a stick and I started bleeding,” she added.
“But nobody in our locality was aware of our disease until yesterday. I am afraid how I will run my family now. I don’t know how our daughter will continue her education either.”
The battered couple went to police, who helped them return home. There is now a police picket in the locality in Ghola. But the stigma of social ostracism in an area barely 30km from the city centre is a grim pointer to the taboo that still surrounds the disease.
The couple have a six-year-old daughter, who is not HIV-positive. They were making preparations to secure her life when their own blood relatives and one-time friends turned on them. On Sunday, the couple brought back their daughter from an undisclosed location where they had sent her fearing her safety when they were attacked on Saturday.
Local residents, however, came to the rescue of the couple. Basanti Malo, a member of Mahila Brindo Durga Puja Committee, said: “The shame will be on us and not them if we cannot stand by them at their hour of crisis. We plan to hand over some money to the couple by saving it from our Puja funds.”
Pappu Roy, a local resident and a third-year student at APC College, said: “I will discuss with my friends how we can stand by them. We will have to first raise their confidence level so that they can live in the mainstream of the society without any sense of shame and fear. However, the question of how they will run their family and manage treatment costs is of utmost importance.”
“The couple says they are HIV-positive and that they were beaten up by the husband’s brother. We have taken down their complaint. We will take strong action against the accused,” said Barrackpore detective chief C Sudhakar.
When a police contingent accompanied the couple back to their house, the accused were nowhere to be found. After ensuring that the couple was safely in their house, police left a stern message with locals not to bother them in the future.