There is a Mowgli swinging from branch to branch in the recently released ‘The Jungle Book’. And then there is a ‘Mowgli-like’ boy in an adivasi village in Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district.
But unlike his celluloid version, Chhattisgarh’s ‘Mowgli’ differs from that screen avatar in many respects. This Mowgli has a more human-sounding name – Surendra. He lives with his parents and has a sister. He wears proper clothes and does not exhibit all the traits unique to feral children.
So why is he equated with Mowgli?
Because the residents of the village where this boy lives and those nearby say that Surendra is an expert in climbing trees and swinging from one branch to another, is most comfortable with wild animals, and sometimes behaves like them too. His sister too is said to be an expert in climbing trees.
Their father said that the wild animals have never hurt the children and that Surendra often wanders out of the village all alone, only to be brought back home by some Good Samaritan.
The villagers also say that the children are mentally challenged.
When the children were brought before doctors at a hospital in Rajnandgaon, Surendra reportedly started touching the feet of everyone he saw.
According to a report, the Collector has now ordered the doctors to pay special attention to the children owing to their case. Both the children have being treated in the emergency ward of the hospital.
Rajnandgaon falls in the Red Corridor. Being a naxal infested region of the state, development has eluded the place leading to widespread poverty, illiteracy, and health issues.