A 5-month-old baby in India died Friday after her mother allegedly branded the child with a hot iron to cure her illness.

The child's mother, who lives in the western state of Rajasthan, told the police that her daughter had been unwell for a month and was unable to eat anything or drink milk properly. The victim's parents believed the child was having some stomach issues, The Times of India reported.

The woman, identified as Lahari, tried to contact a local occultist for the child's treatment, but he was out of town. On Thursday evening, the mother branded the baby with the hot iron, thinking it would help her daughter recover from the illness.

Lahari said branding the child would have helped ward off the evil that was causing the illness. However, the child's health deteriorated, following which she was taken to a local hospital where she remained on life support for seven hours, and was then declared dead, The Times of India reported.

Doctors at the hospital informed the police, and the child's body was sent for an autopsy. Authorities said a case has been filed against the child's parents. An investigation was underway into the incident, regional media outlet Asianet News reported [Google Translate showed]

Several people in India, especially in the rural areas, still rely on occultists to cure illness rather than going to a doctor. In many such cases, people believe the illness caused is linked to some evil spirit.

In April, a 4-month-old baby died after his family took him to a quack to treat his fever. The infant had been suffering from stomach pain, fever and cold for days. His parents took the step after several hospitals failed to treat the child, local media reports said at the time. The alleged healer reportedly branded the baby with a hot iron rod at more than 20 places on his body. The child sustained serious injuries and was rushed to a hospital where he died during treatment. Doctors said at the time that the family's superstitious belief had put the life of the infant in danger. The incident took place in the state of Odisha.

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