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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Forsaken, patient goes berserk

Behrampore, March 27: A mental patient, dumped by his family in a general hospital, chased nurses and beat up other patients and policemen last night until being hit on the head by an iron chair that left him unconscious.

Forty-two-year-old Hanif Sheikh's brother had admitted him to the rural hospital at Lalgola saying he was having severe cramps in the stomach.

However, the suspected schizophrenia patient turned violent around 11 pm when a nurse, Bhabani Roy, tried to inject a medicine for the non-existent cramps.

Hanif jumped out of bed and ran after Roy, who somehow reached a police camp on the hospital premises.

'One of the two home-guards who went to restrain Hanif fled when he turned towards them. The other, Buddhadeb Mondal, slipped and fell. Hanif sat on him and beat him up,' a police officer said.

Then he snatched a slim iron rod ' used for setting up mosquito nets ' and started threatening the 15 male patients in the ward.

The guard who had fled informed the Lalgola police station, a kilometre away, and a team of seven personnel arrived around midnight. Hanif hit a constable with the rod.

When Halim, his elder brother who had admitted him there, tried to pacify him, he was hit and left with a gash in the leg.

By this time, there was complete chaos in the hospital. 'As Hanif ran around the beds, some of the male patients joined the police in the chase. One of them took a small iron chair and hit him on the head. Hanif collapsed on the floor,' a police officer said.

Relatives of patients demonstrated in front of the hospital ' about 250 km from Calcutta ' today, asking why a mental patient was lodged with others. An injured Hanif was shifted to Behrampore General Hospital.

District health officials said Halim, a resident of neighbouring Rajanagar village, had suppressed from the hos-pital that his brother sometimes turned violent.

Hanif's plight is a stark reminder of the lack of awareness about how to handle mental patients even within their own family.

'They (Hanif's family members) had simply dumped him at the hospital because they could not bear him anymore at home,' said Sunil Kumar Bhowmick, Murshidabad's deputy chief medical officer of health.

After Hanif was laid low by the hit on the head, angry patients and policemen hurled blows at him.

The doctor on duty, Hansaraj Chatterjee, rescued him and put him on a bed. However, his hands and feet were tied with bandages to the bed.

Halim, a farmer, said: 'My brother had become violent at home. We admitted him to the hospital suppressing his actual condition to get rid of him.'

The family had never consulted a doctor regarding Hanif's condition. He was simply 'the mad man'.

Such patients, however, can be treated at most state-run healthcare facilities.

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