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CPM councillor leads doctor assault

Naihati, Jan. 10: A CPM councillor led a few hundred people this morning to a doctor's house here that was ransacked and set afire.

Dr Hiranmoy Bhattacharya, who was treating patients at the time, was beaten up as Basu Bhattacharya egged the mob to attack at Talpukur, about 30 km from Calcutta.

Raiding the doctor's house was the CPM leader's way of protesting against the death of 10-year-old Pritam Das.

Pritam died of a cardiac arrest as a consequence of the Steven Johnson Syndrome ' a result of severe allergy to a particular group of drugs ' at 11.50 last night, according to the certificate issued by NRS Hospital in Calcutta.

His father Tapan, a resident of Bijoynagar, took him to Dr Bhattacharya after he complained of rashes on his forearms and back on January 1.

The doctor said: 'I suspected measles. So, I prescribed an oral antibiotic, an antibiotic eye-drop and a painkiller. After that, the boy's parents never contacted me or informed me about his condition.' The eye-drop prescribed was ciprafloxacin and the other antibiotic belonged to the cephalosporin group. The painkiller was a nimesulide.

Pritam's father said his condition worsened after he started taking the drugs. 'He complained of chest pain and nausea and could not even eat properly. We contacted the doctor over his mobile phone and he asked us to continue with the medicines. He also asked us to admit Pritam to a hospital if the symptoms persisted.'

On January 3, Tapan took his son to two other doctors, who advised hospitalisation. Pritam was admitted to NRS the same day. He died last night. When the body reached Naihati around 10.45 this morning, residents were seething. The CPM leader added fuel to the fire.

One of the neighbours said the mob broke open the main door, hurled brickbats and set a portion of the house ablaze. Hiranmoy Bhattacharya was dragged out of his chamber in the ground-floor of the two-storeyed building and his car set aflame. His elderly parents were on the other floor during the attack. They were hit by flying shards of glass.

Additional superintendent of police Manoj Verma said: 'Hearing about the death, we posted three policemen in front of the doctor's house. They were outnumbered.' A large contingent led by Verma and jawans of the Rapid Action Force moved in after that.

Verma said: 'The boy's father has complained about the doctor's negligence and the doctor against the attack.'

The Indian Medical Association, which condemned the attack, said: 'We conducted an inquiry and found that the doctor had prescribed safe drugs.' The Naihati unit of the association sought security so that doctors 'can work freely'.

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