Gas balloon blast during election campaign: Poverty-stricken family awaits ‘promised’ compensation.
Mandya: Every politician knows that the key to winning elections is to make great promises. They make promises because they know very well that people will forget about promises.
While there are thousands of unfulfilled promises that have accumulated throughout history, here is a heart-wrenching story of a village boy who suffered severe burn injuries during the recent Assembly election campaign. Before the elections, the boy was assured by politicians of financial help but the money never came and the boy’s parents are struggling to make ends meet to provide treatment.
Ten-year-old Madesha, son of Kumar, a cook by profession and a resident of Cauverypura near Srirangapatna, sustained severe burn injuries when a giant balloon that was being filled with gas exploded at Cauverypura on March 23. The huge balloon was being inflated to welcome Congress President Rahul Gandhi who was to visit Mysuru on March 24.
Workers from an advertising agency in Bengaluru were filling the balloon — with a giant hand (Congress) symbol — with gas and were doing a trial at 4 pm on March 23 at Cauverypura, a residential area next to the Bengaluru-Mysuru Highway when it exploded. Over 11 persons including nine children, who were curiously watching the inflating balloon, sustained serious injuries due to the explosion.
Madesha was among the injured and was provided treatment at Srirangapatna Taluk Hospital. Later, he was shifted to K.R. Hospital in Mysuru.
As per procedure, helium or nitrogen gas has to be filled in such balloons. But helium and nitrogen are too expensive and are not easily available. Instead, it was suspected that cheap hydrogen (highly combustible) gas was being filled illegally. Srirangapatna Police had registered a case in this regard.
After spending several days at the Burns Ward of K.R. Hospital, Madesha’s parents shifted him to a private hospital in Mysuru as the wounds had not healed. But as the treatment at the private hospital was too expensive, the parents were forced to take him home. They now visit a private clinic every three days to dress the wounds and apply healing cream.
As the incident was widely reported in the media, the then Home Minister (now Deputy Chief Minister) who is also the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President Dr. G. Parameshwara, on March 28, had announced a compensation of Rs. 25,000 each to all accident victims including Madesha. The money that was announced in the run up to the elections, however, never came, said Madesha’s parents.
Even the former Srirangapatna MLA Ramesh Babu Bandisiddegowda had provided some financial assistance during the election campaign. But after the elections, the money was stopped. Even Ramesh Babu lost the election.
Madesh’s father Kumar is a cook and only gets occasional cooking jobs and he depends on daily wages to run his family. The poverty-stricken family head told Star of Mysore today that already doctors have performed three skin corrective surgeries on his son. Madesha is bedridden and constantly writhes in pain. He is forced to discontinue his studies.
“It is a daily struggle for my wife to keep our son in bed constantly and he cannot even wear clothes. The wounds hurt every time he is moved from one side to another,” Kumar said in a helpless tone.
“We have paid huge money for the surgeries and the doctors say that it will take years for Madesha to fully recover. We take him to a private clinic once in three days for the wounds to be cleaned and dressed and each clinic visit costs us Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000. I do not know till how long we can sustain,” he said with tears in his eyes.