Midnapore, Jan. 20: Dr Sudip Kanrar might have been god to a few thousand villagers in a remote corner of Bengal, but the government thought he was not fit for the job.
Kanrar, 34, was transferred from the primary health centre at Topsia village in West Midnapore, 200 km from Calcutta, after 11 months of service.
The charge: he neglected official programmes like immunisation and pulse polio.
Showcause notices had been served on him twice.
But the residents of some 15 villages will not take any of that. Around 5 am today, about 5,000 of them descended on the state highway to Orissa and blocked it for over six hours in protest against the transfer.
'The transfer order is being reconsidered,' district chief medical officer Mangobinda Mondal said this evening.
Kanrar was employed at the 15-bed health centre in Gopiballavpur block-II along with two other doctors, both of whom had joined before him.
After he came last February, some of the patients said the standard of treatment improved dramatically.
Pagla Daktar (crazy doctor), as he came to be known, spent an entire night by the patient's bed or paid for medicines. When doctors in the state are known more for shunning villages and deserting health centres, Kanrar's commitment sounds like legend that has survived from times past.
'I suffered a cerebral attack six months ago. Pagla Daktar referred me to NRS Hospital in Calcutta and did not stop at that. He called up the doctors there and personally enquired about my condition over phone every day,' 65-year-old Nirod Baran Das said.
For Dattatreya Palit of Andharia village, Kanrar is no less than god. 'My mother had serious breathing problems at night. The health centre is 3 km from my house and I had gone out to arrange a vehicle when I met the doctor. He rushed with me, treated my aged mother and stayed up the night. He left the next morning after her condition improved.'
Kanrar is available whenever anyone in any of the nearby villages is sick, said one of today's protesters.
Learning about the agitation, the doctor broke down in tears. 'I treat people because I took the oath,' he said.
Every doctor has to do that.
Kanrar said: 'I never realised that people loved me so much. This is my first posting in a rural centre since I joined the health services (in 2004).'
Sarala Singh, a member of the CPM-led Topsia panchayat, said: 'He has changed the character of our health centre.'
Eleven-year-old Tapan Sahoo, too, hero-worships Kanrar. The doctor helped his father with money to treat Tapan's cancer-afflicted grandfather.