Man chooses faith over his daughter’s life

A man in West Bengal who refused to provide a blood transfusion to his critically ill daughter because his religion forbade it has been arrested.

Sanjay Lakra is a follower of the group Jehovah's Witnesses, who believe that blood transfusions are a sin. So when doctors told him that his two-year-old daughter would die unless she was given a blood transfusion, he refused to allow it.

Local reporters then met Darjeeling SP Rajeev Mishra and requested him to do something to save the child and a police team from Bagdogra was immediately rushed to the Lakra home.

Lakra fled his home with his daughter after he heard that the police was looking for him. His wife Sarita told the police: "It is up to God whether my daughter will live or die. She won't be given blood."

Lakra was caught later and the child admitted to Siliguri Sadar Hospital.

Mishra has instructed hospital authorities to provide the child with a blood transfusion whether her father agreed to it or not.

On Tuesday, the child was admitted in the North Bengal Medical College Hospital where doctors said she was suffering from acute renal failure, anaemia as well as bacillary dysentery and needed a transfusion urgently.

But Lakra withdrew the girl from hospital and took her to Bagdogra Rural Hospital to find out if alternative treatment was possible. Ranjit Bhagat of the hospital told HT: "I explained to him that only an immediate blood transfusion would save his child, but he took her away."

The Bagdogra office of Jehovah's Witnesses was closed on Thursday. Father Gabriel Minz, a Catholic priest in Bagdogra, said that there was nothing written in the Bible against blood transfusions. Another Catholic priest in Kurseong said: "We encourage blood donations."

Jehovah's Witnesses was formed by Charles Taze Russell in America in 1872. The cult has 4 million members worldwide. They hold that the cross is a pagan symbol and that Jesus had died at the stakes. They refuse to vote, salute the flag, sing any national anthem or serve in the armed forces.