Despite Lokayukta dampener, Gouds get fish ‘medicine’ ready

Hyderabad, June 6 (IANS) The Bathini Goud family here has begun preparations for administering the fish “prasadam” (medicine) for asthma patients here June 8-9, even as the Lokayukta has directed the government not to sponsor such events.

The family members were busy Thursday getting ready the herbal paste, which is inserted into the mouth of a live murrel fish fingerling, and slipped into the mouth of the patient as part of the traditional cure for asthma.

“As the government has given us permission to distribute the prasadam at Exhibition Grounds, we are continuing our preparations,” Bathini Harinath Goud told IANS Thursday.

He said they had not yet received copies of the Lokayukta order.

“We don’t want to comment without going through the order,” he said. “We are continuing the arrangements, as we don’t want to inconvenience guests coming from outside the city and the state,” Goud said.

Lokayukta Justice B. Subhashan Reddy had Wednesday asked the government not to sponsor or support the event, saying there is no scientific proof that the substance cures asthma. While observing that it is only a superstition, the ombudsman said Goud can continue practising it as there is no law restraining such practices.

Justice Reddy, however, made it clear that public funds should not be used for the event. He said Goud should make his own arrangements for the supply of fish.

Every year, the fisheries department supplies fingerlings to thousands of patients coming from different parts of the country.

The Lokayukta has also directed that the family, and not the government, should pay Rs.2.69 lakh to the Exhibition Society for using the grounds for the event, and suggested that the society obtain an undertaking from Goud that he will pay the amount in a month.

Since only two days are left for the annual event to begin, the Lokayukta allowed the government to make arrangements like supply of water, sanitation, ambulances and security this year, and asked the government not to make such arrangements from next year.

It said police and other departments may provide the amenities from next year by collecting the cost from the organisers, as is done in case of other private events.

The orders came on a petition by Andhra Pradesh Balala Hakkula Sanghham, a body fighting for children’s rights. The petitioner had sought orders to restrain the government from spending public funds for the event.

Thousands of people every year take the “wonder drug” administered on the occasion of “Mrigasira Karthi”, which heralds the onset of monsoon.

It is believed that if taken for three consecutive years, it cures asthma.

The family claims to be distributing the fish medicine free of cost for over 160 years. It renamed the drug as “prasadam” a few years ago following controversies after some groups approached courts, seeking a ban on what was termed an “unscientific” practice.

The fish “medicine” lost its popularity as controversies erupted around it. The number of patients visiting the city each year to take the medicine has also come down in recent years.

A few thousand people turned up at last year’s event, which was held at a ground on the city’s outskirts and marred by stampede, in which one person was killed and about 50 others were injured.

The Goud family, which believes that the herbal formula was revealed to their forefathers by a holy man, claims that four lakh people would turn up for the medicine this year.

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