Grandmother denies ‘tough’ living conditions for rat-bitten child

Suresh Seetaram and Pawan Kumarie Kheran, the parents of the 18-month-old rat-bitten toddler who died at the Georgetown Public Hospital on Monday, cannot be located and the grandmother of the child has denied that she was living under tough conditions.

The couple’s 18-month-old daughter Rebeka Seetaram succumbed in the Intensive Care Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospital, after undergoing emergency surgery. She was being treated for bites about her body that she allegedly sustained from rats at the Belmont, Mahaica home she shared with her parents.

Amardai Kheran

Speaking with the Stabroek News at her Lot 92 Belmont, Mahaica home yesterday, Amardai Kheran, the child’s grandmother, said that Seetaram visited her home after his daughter’s death and left with Pawan Kumarie Kheran. The man went to the home with two policemen, who left with them. The couple has not been seen since, she said, and has not made contact with her.

Like Seetaram, the child’s grandmother admitted that the toddler was bitten by rats on a finger last month but denied that there were bites on her tongue and ears.

She noted that after being bitten, the child was treated by the Mahaicony Hospital and when she returned home there was nothing to suggest that her health was deteriorating. The woman said that child was playing, eating and talking normally. However, she said she was later on discovered stiff and they immediately rushed her back to the hospital. “When she wake up the Sunday morning, she turn stiff, like a cardboard and them rush she to the Mahaicony Hospital,’ Kheran said.

The family believes the Mahaicony Hospital may be responsible for the child’s subsequent deterioration and Kheran said the doctors there failed to exercise good judgment when they administered two injections to the child. She said the family is confident that a post-mortem examination to be carried out tomorrow will prove their case.

“Is dem doctor at de hospital give Rebeka two strong injection …and when them cut she Friday them gon find that is the injection kill she because when me been a lil gal rat use to eat out me heel and me still a live,” she added.

Kheran also disputed claims by Seetaram about the conditions of their home, which she said is not rat infested and has never been prone to rats. According to her, rats entered the yard from a nearby rice field.

Seetaram had told Stabroek News that he and his family live under “tough” conditions, with them all sleeping on the ground, he said, since he was too poor to afford a bed.

Parts of the floor of their modest home, he added, are made of mud and he used insecticide to keep the rodents at bay. But he noted that where the house is located, “it gat plenty rats and so and me been trying to fix the whole situation.”

But Kheran said yesterday that Seetaram is an alcoholic who lies to everyone about the condition of the home. She added that the children never slept on the floor they always slept with her on the bed. She said that it is impossible for them to sleep on a mud floor, since her house is two-storeys and the upper flat has the rooms.

Seetaram had also revealed that officials from the Social Services Ministry visited his home last week and “them tek away my wife other two children.” He said that his family was told that another relative would have to take custody of the two children, who have a different father.

According to Kheran, the two children are 4 and 7 years and they were under her care since they were babies because their mother has mental health issues.

Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) Director Ann Greene said that the children are in the temporary care of the CCPA, pending a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of their sibling as well as their living conditions.

She added that reports are that the children never attended school and that they are uneducated.

Their children’s pregnant mother, she noted, is being assisted by the agency as officials are trying to ensure that she is getting “the proper care,” including a healthy clinic attendance record. The two children lived temporarily with their parents and grandmother, and Greene said that from all indications the grandmother was their main caretaker but she too was negligent. She said that there are reports of the highest level of social dysfunction within the extended family.

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