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More assaults, but no arrest

Calcutta, Nov. 2: Two Sundays before this, relatives of a hospitalised man (Nikunja Bihari Das) beat up doctors at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital for being “insensitive” to their problems.

A day later, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee ordered police from Writers’ Buildings to arrest the trouble-makers.

A fortnight later, the police are still working on the case. No one has been arrested, say officials, all but saying that none will be.

The chief minister’s secretariat did not enquire about the case in the interim, officials admitted, as they confronted an eerily similar script that played itself out on the same stage. Relatives of Nityagopal Banik, who died last evening after being hospitalised at RG Kar, beat up a member of the house staff for his death.

Police, according to witnesses, escorted Banik’s relatives out of the hospital. An officer said there was no assault but only protests by the relatives.

Officials asked to implement the chief minister’s order say this is one directive that is “among the most difficult to implement”.

“When a police outpost manages the law-and-order situation in a hospital, the men there have to first ensure that the hospital remains in a working mode,” said one of the officials, holding a senior position in the state home department headed by the chief minister.

“Doctors on duty getting beaten up is an unfortunate event but an arrest is often counter-productive,” he added, explaining that it could lead to a problem affecting an even larger area.

“I can promise that every person beating up a hospital doctor will be arrested if every political party gives a written undertaking that it will not intervene on behalf of the arrested person,” he went on.

“If a man is arrested from his Burtolla residence (Nikunja Bihari’s home) for an incident at RG Kar and that leads to even more violence, who will take the responsibility'” he asked.

Doctors, however, say officials are giving “untenable” excuses. “First, let the police arrest a single person and make an example out of him,” an RG Kar post-graduate trainee said.

“We would like to see what effect this has on potential trouble-makers,” he added.

For RG Kar’s junior doctors, who went on a ceasework early in the morning but later relented to go back to work, it’s all in a day’s work.

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