MUMBAI: Maharashtra government on Tuesday announced a decision to rename the Nursing Training School in Thane after Aruna Shanbaug, the KEM Hospital nurse who passed away yesterday after 42 years in coma.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who returned to Mumbai on Tuesday from China, made the official announcement on twitter ahead of the State Cabinet meeting scheduled On Wednesday.
Maharashtra government’s announcement came on a day the Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil ruled out the possibility of the government re-opening Shanbaug’s police case unless a court issued such orders. “If somebody goes to court asking for reopening of the case, the State government will do as per the court’s orders,” Mr. Patil told reporters.
Shanbaug was brutally raped on the night of November 27, 1973 by ward-boy cum sweeper Sohanlal Walmiki, who sodomised her and then strangulated her with a dog chain, sending her into a comatose state. As she remained in a permanently vegetative state, Shanbaug became the face of the euthanasia debate when author Pinki Virani approached the Supreme Court seeking euthanasia for her. The apex court rejected the plea in 2011, but allowed passive euthanasia for patients with permanently vegetative state and incurable medical condition. Valmiki was convicted and served two concurrent seven-year sentences for assault and robbery, but was never prosecuted for rape, or alleged unnatural sex.
Meanwhile, the KEM nurses, Shanbaug’s principal caregivers for four decades, want the room in ward no. 4 to be preserved as a memorial for her. Hospital dean Dr. Avinash Supe said no decision has been taken in this regard, though her photograph has been placed in the room, which remained out of bound for visitors.
Shanbaug’s demise has also spurred Madhya Pradesh government to institute an award in her memory. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday announced that his government would felicitate those who put up resilient fight against atrocities against women with Rs. 1 lakh prize every year. He made the announcement while addressing the second Mahila Panchayat organized at CM House in Bhopal.