Sacrifice fear haunts minor with hexadactyly

Sacrifice fear haunts minor with hexadactyly

Representative image.

Twelve-year-old Shivnandan Kumar would never have thought a common birth defect would force him to leave school and remain confined within the four walls of his house under a round-the-clock surveillance of his parents.

Shivnandan, a resident of Gurgi village in Uttar Pradesh's Barabanki district which is about 40 kilometre from Lucknow, was born with 24 fingers and toes, which according to the doctors is a ''very common congenital malformation (birth defect)".

In medical terms the condition is called hexadactyly, the causes for which are not yet known.

Little did the boy know that some people, even in the 21st Century, believed that in his deformity lay the key to some hidden treasure.

They desperately want to ''sacrifice'' him.

About two years ago, the boy was lured by a relative of his to a jungle, where an exorcist had performed a special puja to please the gods and to ''sacrifice'' him.

Shivnandan was saved after someone pointed that sacrifices made on Fridays did not yield any monetary benefit and that the boy should be sacrificed on a Thursday.

''My son somehow managed to reach home that time... He was threatened not to reveal the names of the perpetrators,'' said his father Khunni Lal, who worked as a mechanic.

Lal said that he had lodged a complaint with the police and three people were arrested.

They were released on bail a few days later and had since been trying to kidnap his son for ''sacrificing'' him.

''He has not been going to the school for the past several months. I have also stopped going to work as I have to be at home to guard my son. I have again informed the police,'' Lal said.

Police said that they were investigating the matter.

''We have received a complaint and looking into it,'' said circle officer (CO) Umashankar Singh on Sunday.