Boy, five, with terminal cancer is drowned as his family forcibly submerge him in India’s


  • A young child died after being held under water for too long in northern India
  • The Ganges is considered sacred to Hindus, believed to hold healing properties

Tragedy struck in India when a five-year-old boy diagnosed with terminal cancer was drowned as his family tried to cure him with water from the River Ganges.

Police say the child, who had leukemia, died after his parents submerged him in the river flowing through northern India in a superstitious bid to cure him.

The family had reportedly travelled from their home in Delhi to Haridwar on Tuesday to perform the ceremony and pray for the unnamed victim.

Their taxi driver said the child was accompanied by his parents and a female relative identified as his aunt by local media.

The driver said the boy looked ‘extremely unwell’ and that doctors in the capital had given up on trying to save him – leading the family to take more desperate measures.

Bystanders watched as the family held the child underwater in hope of finding a 'miracle cure'

Bystanders watched as the family held the child underwater in hope of finding a ‘miracle cure’

Some came over and one (pictured centre) appeared to intervene and pull the child away

Some came over and one (pictured centre) appeared to intervene and pull the child away

Video shared locally showed the parents later chanting prayers as his ‘aunt’ held him under the water.

Bystanders reportedly told the family to stop as they continued to hold the boy under the water, considered sacred to Hindus.

Some intervened when the family refused, video showing the ‘aunt’ trying to attack onlookers as they tried to pull the child out of the water.

The child was pulled out of the water and taken to hospital, where doctors formally announced he had died.

In one clip, the boy’s ‘aunt’ is seen calling out that the child will come back to life.

The family members were all taken into custody for questioning, police said.

Haridwar city police chief Swantantra Kumar said: ‘It appears that they brought the boy here because they believed that Ganga snan [cleansing] would cure him.’

The River Ganges, with a central role in India’s founding history, has lasting religious and cultural significance to Hindus.

Believers bathe in the river and hold to be the embodiment of all sacred waters in religious mythology.

The river is believed to have spiritual properties, capable of washing away sin and to absorb impurities.

Dying on the banks of the river, or being cremated nearby, is also said to ensure instant salvation.

The man in the hat is then seen apparently taking the child away from the desperate family

The man in the hat is then seen apparently taking the child away from the desperate family

A woman identified as the child's aunt called out that the boy would come back to life

A woman identified as the child’s aunt called out that the boy would come back to life

During the pandemic, potentially thousands of bodies were spotted in the river as families turned back to the custom of immersing the deceased in the holy waters of the Ganges.

Others left the bodies of family members on the river’s sandy banks.

Despite advances in industry and technology nationwide, 90 per cent of India’s population still lives without health insurance.

An increase in life expectancy and declining death rate will put further strain on India’s health sector in the coming years – a trend the state is looking to match with large investment into public healthcare spending.  





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