The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eight nights of duty to death

For eight nights on the trot, this Reserved Force constable was forced to stay on his feet, despite being unwell. He fell seriously ill on Friday, after yet another long night of duty. He was taken to the police hospital, where the lack of medical facilities forced a shift to another government hospital. He died there, within 24 hours of being admitted with Hepatitis B.

As news of the death of Rajendra Singh Rana, only 28, spread, his colleagues of the Second Battalion took to Barrackpore Trunk Road, in front of their headquarters, late on Sunday. They stayed put for close to three hours, barracking their boss (deputy commissioner R.K. Adhikari), before returning to their rooms.

The response from the top was along predictable lines. After ordering a probe into the incident of “rank indiscipline”, it was announced that the offenders would be given “exemplary” punishment. There was no word of apology for the death of the young constable.

Rana joined Calcutta Police nearly three years ago and was posted to the Second Battalion of the Reserved Force. He had not been keeping well for the past week and, when he returned to his quarters on Friday morning, he started vomiting. He was running a temperature when he was admitted to the Calcutta Police Hospital in Bhowanipore.

The police hospital, however, did not have the facility to treat Rana, suffering from Hepatitis B. So, he was shifted to Sambhunath Pandit Hospital on Saturday. But there, too, he was denied the care that he needed.

Rana was left with several other patients inside a dank ward, even as his colleagues mounted a “save-Rana” operation, in vain.

They first petitioned their immediate superior, pleading that Rana be removed to a “better healthcare institution”.

Red tape took over, with the battalion officer — an inspector — saying the orders had to come from the deputy commissioner. Even as the debate raged on about whether the deputy commissioner should be disturbed on a Sunday, Rana died at 9.45 pm.

This brought his superiors, including Adhikari, to the hospital. But all they could do was pay their last respects.

At around 11.30 pm, Rana’s colleagues set up the roadblock to protest their superior’s “apathy” that, they alleged, had led to his death.

Adhikari visited the spot, pleading with his constables to withdraw their agitation and resolve the issue “outside the public domain”. The constables finally returned to their quarters around 2 am on Monday.

But the anger is yet to subside. “The system of superiors not treating their subordinates as human beings has to end,” said an angry colleague of Rajendra Singh Rana.

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