Mumbai nurse Aruna Shanbaug, in coma since brutal 1973 rape, is dead

7:07 PM, Monday, May 18th, 2015

Aruna ShanbaugMumbai : Aruna Shanbaug, the former nurse at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital who was sexually assaulted by a hospital ward boy in 1973 and had been comatose since then, died on Monday morning. She was 67.

KEM Hospital Dean Avinash Supe said police permissions and other formalities are being completed before finalising Shanbaug’s last rites later on Monday. He has made a public appeal to help trace any relatives or people close to Shanbaug who can get in touch with the hospital immediately.

Last week, Shanbaug was put on ventilator after she was diagnosed of pneumonia.

On the night of November 27, 1973, while working as a junior nurse at KEM Hospital in Mumbai’s Parel area, Aruna was brutally assaulted while changing clothes by a ward boy, Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki, who used a dog chain to throttle her, cutting off blood and oxygen supply to her brain, resulting in injuries to the brain stem and cervical chord injury that left her in a vegetative state since then.

For the last 42 years, she was confined to her bed at KEM Hospital and was being taken care of by its staff. She was a part of our family for 42 years… we will miss Aruna, said nursing staff of KEM hospital

In January 2011, the Supreme Court of India had responded to the plea for euthanasia filed by Aruna’s friend and journalist Pinki Virani, by setting up a medical panel to examine her. The court turned down the mercy killing petition, saying the hospital employees were “taking excellent care of her and wanted her to live”.

Virani had narrated the story of the ailing nurse, who hailed from Haldipur in Uttar Kannada, in her 1998 non-fiction book called ‘Aruna’s Story’, while Duttakumar Desai wrote the Marathi play, ‘Katha Arunachi’ in 1994-95, which was staged by theatre director Vinay Apte in 2002.

Meanwhile, municipal authorities have asked relatives of Shanbaug to contact the hospital staff. Her last known relative, a sister, passed away a few years ago.

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