Ganjam: Notwithstanding the spread of education, widespread belief in superstition has not gone out of the minds of people in several pockets of Ganjam district – a place also infamous for witchcraft and sorcery-related incidents.
63 years old woman Nayak Kumari from Kadapada village in Ganjam district has confined herself to the four walls of her house for being born with 20 toes and 12 fingers since she has been branded as a witch.
“I was born with this defect and could not be treated because I belong to a poor family. The superstitious residents nearby believe I am a witch and keep away from me,” the woman said.
She stays indoors most of the time to keep away from prying eyes, she added.
A neighbour sympathetic to the woman’s condition said, “This is a small village and people here are superstitious and so they treat her like a witch. She has a medical condition and cannot do anything about it. She cannot even afford the treatment.”
According to surgical specialist Dr Pinaki Mohanty, while having one or two extra fingers is not uncommon, having 20 toes and 12 fingers is very rare.
“This is a case of Polydactyly, in which extra fingers are there from birth. This is caused by a mutation in genes. Polydactyly is not that uncommon, around one or two people in every five thousand have extra fingers. However, someone having 20 toes and 12 fingers is very rare,” he said.
Mohanty also said that apart from the medical perspective, there is social stigma around the medical condition due to which a lot of patients get neglected.