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Farmer’s quest for justice puts doctors in the dock

Behrampore, Nov. 20: Two senior doctors of a mental hospital here were charged with the murder of a patient, Golam Hussain, more than two years after his death.

Abul, a farmer from Birbhum’s Rampurhat, had alleged that his brother had strangulation marks on the throat and injury in the abdomen when he saw his body. He went to police to lodge a complaint but the officers refused to heed the poor man’s pleas.

He had arrived at the hospital on a routine visit to his 32-year-old brother on August 31, 2001, when Abul was told that Golam had died the day before. “He was suffering from mental problems. I had admitted him to the hospital the previous year and seen him last two months before. The marks on his throat and the injury on his stomach were clear. After the post-mortem, I waited for five hours with my brother’s body at the police station but they did not accept my complaint,” said Abul.

The police registered a case of unnatural death but refused to accept an FIR alleging murder. Abul moved the chief judicial magistrate’s court.

The magistrate, who is now investigating Abul’s allegation, summoned the doctors accused of murder on Wednesday. He had earlier summoned doctors Rajat Majumdar and S.K. Bhuniya, who carried out the post-mortem on Hussain.

“They (Majumdar and Bhuniya) had told the court that the death was caused by strangulation and injuries in the abdomen. Then the court decided to charge the hospital superintendent and the doctor on duty with murder,” said a lawyer appearing for Abul.

The magistrate heard the accused doctors’ version of the incident and charged them with the crime.

Superintendent of Behrampore Mental Hospital Raghabesh Majumdar and the doctor on duty at the time of Hussain’s death, Subhoshri Medda, were granted bail against personal bonds of Rs 1,000 each. Abul did not object to it but wanted to see an end to the mystery shrouding his brother’s death.

The doctors were asked to appear before the court again on February 11.

“We have been charged with murder. But we don’t think that a doctor can intentionally kill his patient,” said Majumdar. Medda, now attached to the Pavlov Institute of Mental Health at Gobra in Calcutta, left for the city immediately after the bail was granted.

Superintendent of police, Murshidabad, Gyanwant Singh said the magistrate has not served any notice to the police in connection with the case yet. “It is within the chief judicial magistrate’s powers to conduct such an investigation under Section 202 of the CrPC,” said Singh.

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