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Morbid memories, tearful tale

Day II, Alipore court, Case no: Bhowanipore PS 133/03; CGR 1534/03, state vs D.K. Majumdar and others

Mujhmein abhi woh himmat nahin ki main aur kuchh bata sakoon (I no longer have the courage to say anything more).”

The plaint brought to the fore on Friday the pain of a father whose son died young last summer.

Manoj Patel — father of Rajnis, the 17-year-old who died on June 2, 2003, four months after a shin-bone fracture suffered on the cricket field and five failed operations at SSKM Hospital — broke down in court on Friday while narrating the tragic tale of his son.

If inside the crowded courtroom the father was drawing upon all his resolve to narrate the tragic turn of events leading to the death of his only child, outside, the mother sat silently, nursing morbid memories.

For one case, two witnesses are not allowed in court at the same time. So, Munni Patel sat in one of the makeshift lawyers’ chambers on the Alipore court campus, staring into nothingness and waiting for her husband to emerge from his deposition.

Resuming from where he had adjourned on Thursday, Manoj Patel gave a blow-by-blow account of the third and fourth operations his son had undergone at SSKM, for around half-an-hour.

In his brief statement on Friday, Manoj Patel informed the judge that the third operation was carried out on March 31, 2003. This was done to remove the steel plate after Rajnis developed an infection.

“Four days later, he was operated upon for the fourth time and the doctors set rings around the shin bone to repair the fracture. Three to four days after the operation, he was asked to walk but he started bleeding profusely from his wound,” recalled the father.

After some time, the doctors announced that he needed a fifth operation, as the ring and plates had come loose and Rajnis’ condition had deteriorated.

“They killed my only child but they kept assuring me that he would recover with time… Now I know they were just experimenting with him,” cried Manoj Patel, breaking down in front of a cramped, but silent, courtroom.

As Manoj Patel took out a handkerchief and wept inconsolably into it, sub-divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM) Manjit Singh asked a court official to give him a glass of water.

“Have some water,” he told the weeping father.

“Can you please tell us something about the fifth and final operation'” the judge asked.

But an overwhelmed Manoj informed the court that he was in no position to carry on.

Drained and distraught, Rajnis’ father almost collapsed and had to be helped to a chair by a court official.

The judge, realising that the aggrieved father would take a while to recover, adjourned the hearing till Saturday noon.

All the while, the five accused of medical negligence that caused the death of Rajnis Patel -— orthopaedic surgeon D.K. Majumdar and junior doctors Souvik Bardhan, Sandip Manna, Jayanta Mondol and Nirmalya Basu — sat still in the courtroom, surrounded by half-a-dozen friends.

They did not betray any emotion through the 35-minute proceedings. As soon as it was over, they hurried off to their waiting cars.

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