Calcutta, Nov. 21: Several Trinamul Congress leaders and a few hundred of their supporters today descended on SSKM Hospital to register a protest that disrupted work through the day.
Three weeks ago, mayor Subrata Mukherjee, also of Trinamul, had stormed into SSKM surgeon superintendent D.D. Chattopadhyay’s office with a personal agenda.
Trinamul leader Madan Mitra, with slogan-shouting supporters in tow, entered the hospital around 8 am and laid siege to the main building, stopping the staff from entering. They were protesting against the transfer of 23 private security guards — owing allegiance to Mitra — from the hospital by the contractor.
Mitra and his men invaded the main building with loudspeakers, demanding restoration of the transferred guards, with no regard for the 1,500 inpatients and around 2,500 more at the outpatients’ departments.
A surprised surgeon super sent an SOS to Writers’ Buildings and contacted police. Shaken by his brush with the mayor, Chattopadhyay sought advice from the director of health services, Prabhakar Chatterjee, around 10.30 am.
Chatterjee informed the Lalbazar police headquarters and asked the hospital chief to call in the police from the camp at SSKM.
Health minister Surjya Kanta Misra said: “It is for the people to realise what these people (Trinamul) are up to. These actions are not acceptable, especially in a hospital.”
Last evening, an official of a private security agency, employing over 180 guards at the hospital, announced that 23 of them would not be required to report for duty the next day.
This morning, the guards were refused permission to work, prompting an infuriated Mitra, who is also a party general secretary, to rush to the spot.
Nurses, doctors and other hospital staff remained confined in and around the main building as the protest raged.
“There is an important surgery to attend, but we are too terrified of the protesters,” said a few nurses huddled in a corner.
Today’s trouble appeared to be the result of a wrangle within Trinamul.