The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Food unrest in hospital

Calcutta, April 26: Patients in SSKM hospital today refused to eat after two Nandigram villagers, who had been discharged but were not going home, were denied food.

Kanchan Mal and Pritthis Das, admitted with 12 others after the March 14 police firing, were discharged on April 23 but refused to leave.

“The situation in our village is still very volatile and I am scared to go back,” said Mal, on bed number 18E in the Woodburn Ward.

This morning, the hospital decided to stop serving them food. But this triggered an outcry from other patients in the ward, some of whom were also from Nandigram.

“We all refused to eat if they were not served food. This is inhuman,” said Abhijit Giri, on the bed next to Das’s.

The protest forced the hospital on the backfoot and food was served to Mal after the superintendent intervened.

“I requested the superintendent to allow me have food, otherwise I would have to starve. He agreed and gave orders,” she said.

Das, however, had to eat out. “He has gone out to eat,” Giri said.

Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, who promised to look into the matter tomorrow, said: “We will not drive anybody out of the hospital. The question does not arise.”

Mal, a mother of three sons, saw a youth getting hit by a bullet when the villagers were resisting the police’s attempt to enter Nandigram.

“I sat beside him and tried to make him drink water when another bullet hit me and I became unconscious,” she said.

She had undergone surgery in the cardio-thoracic unit and was later shifted to the Woodburn ward where other victims are also admitted.

Her husband, Sripati, who comes to visit her every day, had told Mal it is still not safe for her to return.

“I did not know what to do when the doctors told me that I am fit to go and was handed the discharge certificate,” she said.

Das has another reason for refusing to leave. “There are discrepancies in his discharge certificate. The problem should be solved first,” said Giri. “Pritthis had sustained bullet injuries but the certificate shows he has head injury.”

According to hospital sources, admission papers show Das had head injuries.

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