| Medical students at SSKM Hospital in Calcutta on Sunday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta |
The SSKM Hospital intern from Patna, Mohammed Shahbaaz Siddiqui, is critical though he was taken out of ventilator support on Sunday.
Shahbaaz’s father arrived in Calcutta from Kuwait, where he works in an oil company, on Sunday morning. The intern’s mother had come from Patna on Saturday afternoon and his younger brother, an engineering student in Delhi, came late on Saturday.
“Shahbaaz is recovering well. He has been taken off ventilator support. He is responding to calls. He opened his eyes and saw his parents on Sunday,” said a relative of the intern.
On Saturday morning, Siddiqui and his batchmate Saptarshi Das — the two interns of Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (IPGMER) — were found lying on the bed of one of the hostel rooms that belonged to another student.
Das, a popular student who played several sports, was gasping for breath and Siddiqui was unconscious in room number 426 of the main boys’ hostel on the campus when some juniors found them around 9.30am. SSKM sources said traces of drugs were found in the intestine of Das during the post-mortem. “The traces of drugs have been sent for forensic examinations,” said an SSKM official.
Police sources said on Sunday that the hospital authorities were aware of drug and alcohol abuse by some inmates of the main boys’ hostel, but took no action. Police and security guards also revealed there was no vigil at the student hostel in SSKM Hospital.
“About a year back, there was a clash between two groups of students and we had conducted an inspection of the hostel, along with the hospital officials. Stacks of empty liquor bottles were lying openly in the rooms,” said the police officer.
Pradip Mitra, the director of the Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research had on Saturday admitted that he had been told the two were heavily into drugs.
“All senior officials of the hospital like the superintendent or the dean of students were with us. They saw everything but since then we were never called to conduct any search,” he said.
“We can conduct inspections only if the hospital authorities call us,” he said.
Being students of medical science, the interns enjoy easy access to nerve stimulating drugs and medical representatives are believed to be easy sources. Students at the hostel admitted that were no surprise raids. In case of a problem about any basic amenities, the students would inform the authorities to get the problem fixed. “I have never encountered any surprise raids,” said a fourth-year student at the hostel.
The only action the health department took on Sunday was to remove hostel superintendent, Durbaraj Rakshit, following the death.
“I have instructed the hospital administration to remove the hostel superintendent,” said Sushanta Banerjee, the director of medical education. The papers for the removal of the hostel superintendent have been readied and he would be handed them on Monday.
But Rakshit is a first-year postgraduate trainee doctor at the hospital, and his colleagues said it was impossible for him to devote enough time to keep a vigil on the hostel inmates after completing the everyday medical assignments.