**Keonjhar: ** It all appears that the age-old superstition is hard to die out from the head and heart of our society, especially the gullible and ignorant tribal populace, despite several awareness drives and we being a part and parcel of the era of modern science and medicine.
Even though many innocent children have already borne the brunt of blind belief and the shocking incidents are also being highlighted, branding of sick children with hot iron as a means of healing ailments still rules the roost.
The glaring instance is that of a 7-year-old tribal boy branded with hot iron on Friday.
As per medical reports, the infant from Phuljhara village under Banspal block in this tribal-dominated district was branded by his family members to cure him of malaria.
His condition turned critical and was immediately rushed to the District Headquarters Hospital (DHH) here.
Fortunately, the child is in good condition after being administered preliminary treatment, said the concerned paediatrician of DHH.
Such instances galore in Keonjhar as a minor girl was also subjected to hot iron branding by her family members to cure her stomach ailment last month. She got cured after undergoing medical treatment here, but had to suffer unnecessarily for the superstitious bent of mind of her elders.
However in this district last month, a three-month-old baby girl unfortunately succumbed to the age-old neck-deep superstition of branding on stomach for curing her ailment.
Notably, Parbati Juanga, the three-month-old only daughter of Pravat Juanga of Sanakamunda village of Tentimuda block was suffering from cold, cough and fever. Instead of taking her to hospital for treatment, her parents called upon the village quack, who pressed red-hot iron on his stomach at several places in a bid to cure her.
Instead of getting well the baby had sustained infection and serious with septicaemia. She had been rushed to the nearby Telkoi Health Care Centre in this district, but succumbed to the injuries in the wee hours.
Such child branding cases are not confined to only Keonjhar, but also to most of the tribal-dominated districts of Odisha, be it adjoining Sundargarh and Mayurbhanj or the southern Odisha districts densely populated with the tribal folk.