The broken window panes at Vidyasagar Hospital. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhayaya
A teenaged girl’s death at Vidyasagar Hospital in Behala on Monday night because of alleged medical negligence triggered a scene that is familiar in Calcutta: mob violence against doctors and nurses.
Residents of Barik Para converged on the hospital on receiving news of the death of Rumpa Das, 14, and went about targeting the medical staff and property till late in the night, police said.
A student of Class IX, Rumpa had been admitted to the hospital with fever on May 8. Hospital superintendent A.K. Mondal said on Tuesday that she was later diagnosed with tuberculosis and given “appropriate” treatment. “She developed cardio-respiratory complications on Monday night and passed away despite our doctors and nurses trying their best to revive her.”
Rumpa’s family contested the hospital’s version, saying the doctors never informed them that she had tuberculosis. “They are lying. They have not given a single document pertaining to her treatment,” Subhas Goswami, the family’s next-door neighbour, said.
A nurse informed Rumpa’s mother Chhaya and some relatives who were in the hospital only around 11pm that her condition was critical, Goswami said. “By the time they entered the ward, she was dead.”
The family complained to the police that Rumpa died when a nurse tried to give her an injection, but the hospital superintendent said she was given only oral medication.
The resident medical officer, nurses and other hospital staff were manhandled by the crowd that gathered after the girl’s death.
“They started beating up anybody they came across. The other patients in the ward pleaded with them not to indulge in violence, but they wouldn’t listen. We were forced to call the police,” Mondal said.
A team from Behala police station caned the mob and arrested 20 people for the assault, a witness said.
But the superintendent South 24 Parganas police, Praveen Kumar, said the police did not use force.